2010-09-30 - Change Who's Mind?
Originally Published 2002-12-12
I recently received a question from a reader who asks a very good question. "Why do we bother asking God for "things" when we pray knowing that no matter how we ask and how often, He will only do for us what He wants to do for us. I mean, can we, by praying, actually change God's mind?"
This really is a good question. The mind of God is infinite in all aspects. There is nothing that God does not already know. He doesn't have to think about a question. He knows the answer. So, is it possible to change the mind of God? There are a few examples in the Bible where it appears this may be exactly what has happened. In light of the omniscience of God, that doesn't make sense. Let's look a little closer.
Lot lives in Sodom against the warnings of Abraham. The Lord tells Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah must be destroyed. Abraham barters with the Lord of Hosts to save the city. He asks God if there are fifty righteous in the city if God will spare the city. The bidding goes from fifty down to ten before it is over. In the end there were only Lot and his family that were found to be righteous and they were rushed from the city by Angels. Only four souls were pulled from the city. So, was the mind of God changed? (Gen 18-19)
Moses stood in the gap for the nation of Israel as they had angered the Lord with their rebellion. This time it seems that the cup of God's wrath is about to overflow and the nation will be destroyed. Moses intervenes for the people.
Ex 32:31-33 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book (KJV)
God offers to Moses the promise given to Abraham to be the father of the great nation. Moses returns the argument that if God destroys the people God's name will be mocked because of the failure of His promise to Abraham. God put Moses through the wringer to so Moses and we know the heart of Moses. The name and honor of God was more important to Moses than the name and honor of Moses. God's promise to Abraham was never in jeopardy. God knew the character and heart of Moses, and that Moses would intervene for the people. Was the mind of God changed?
Another comment from the same note said, "It just seems so disappointing to keep asking for something and never receive it." How long do we pray for something? I have known people to pray for wayward or unsaved sons and daughters for years. Sometimes they come home in an answer to those prayers. Other times they never do come home. I know of a story of an young boy who fell into a coma. His parents prayed for his healing for 35 years before the answer came and their son awoke near the age of 50. Sometimes the answer that we so easily perceive as, "No." is actually, "Wait." or, "I have something better instead." It is just as much an act of faith to continue to pray against the logic that says the boy will never wake up as it was for Abraham to barter with God down to ten righteous in Sodom trying to save Lot and his family. Moses stood on his faith in God's promise to Abraham and the forgiveness of God when he pleaded forgiveness for Israel or to have his own name removed from the Book of Life.
The mind of God was not changed in either case. The minds of the people praying were opened to the reality of their faith and to display the character that faith had generated. We have these examples as keepsakes of the legacy of faith in our awesome God.
Grace & Peace,