May 22, 2020 by Bill Peterson
Some people have the notion that God is like a magic genie, and if you say the right spell or believe hard enough, you can get God to do your bidding.
We know that God cannot be manipulated by humans through prayers or other methods. God already knows what we want and need. But God cannot be persuaded to do something He had not already planned to do. There is no chance of negotiating with God. He already owns everything we have, and He doesn’t need anything we can do for Him. We cannot even keep our own vows without help from God.
One could not hope to educate God, the creator, and the ruler of the universe. Nor could we – with clever logic or heartfelt pleas – change God’s mind. So then why pray?
God is not like that ungodly judge from the parable. We can’t wear Him down or trick Him to do our bidding. The parable goes on to say that if the ungodly judge gives good things to those who ask, then how much more will the loving God give good things to those who ask.
You ask how a loving God can let our loved ones suffer so. Consider this: you make choices concerning what is good for your infants, what medicine he should take, and so forth. He may not agree with you, but you have greater knowledge than he does. Well, the difference between us and God is a thousand times as great as the difference between our baby and us. We cannot understand God’s mind. We need to trust Him because He is a loving God, who will only do what is best for us.
And perhaps prayer works to change the pray-er rather than to change God. Perhaps God just waits for someone to come with total submission, with no notion of any ability of their own. When the one who prays has been blessed with an attitude of humility and total dependence on God, then perhaps God will do what He had always planned to do anyway.
Miracles do still happen every day. If I drop a stone, it falls to the ground. I don’t understand why it falls instead of floating away like a balloon. I can’t make it fall, or prevent it from falling. It’s a miracle. Likewise, if I drop a seed, it falls to the ground, and the soil feeds it, the rain waters it, and the sun warms it. It sprouts and grows, and produces a harvest that feeds animals or us humans. These things are all miracles. We can’t cause them to happen. But God can, and He does, every day. Some miracles don’t happen every day, like the mountain moving into the sea, but they still happen. Healing from sickness is a miracle, like the mountain moving. God may or may not do these miracles, but he could.
We pray because God desires a relationship with us. Not just in emergencies or only when things are going well for us. But always. Pray without ceasing. Praise and honor Him. And tell Him what is on your mind. Like the anguished cries from Psalms, “How long Lord?” As long as we keep the humility thing straight, nothing should be off-limits.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Almighty God and Loving Father, Thank you for creating and ruling the universe, and yet caring about our wants and needs. Thank you for desiring a relationship with us, and that we should bring all our cares to you. Help us to humbly praise you, and tell you our concerns. Forgive us when we sin, by thoughts, words, or deeds. May our lives, flawed as we are, be pleasing in your sight. Amen.