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Prayer is one of the main reasons people walk away from God in disgust and frustration. What is prayer? How does it work? Why do we pray?

Prayer cannot possibly be effective

Postby Old Shoes » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:40 am

Prayer cannot possibly be effective. Since all is predetermined, and since God already knows everything that will happen, then our prayers are nothing more than a kind of game we play (or that God is playing with us), because ultimately they effect nothing. If God already knows what we're going to ask and it's all "in the plan," why should we bother to pray?
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Re: Prayer cannot possibly be effective

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:42 am

A number of responses come to mind.

1. There is never any hint in Scripture that prayer is of no effect, that the future is all already planned (determined), or that it’s just a facade. Rather, prayer is always portrayed as being effective and powerful in affecting real results in the real world.

2. Jeremiah 18.1-12 is particular instructive to show us how responsive God is to human action. Jonah is an illustration of the principle, as is Ex. 32.7-14

3. Knowledge is never causative, and cannot be. Neither are decisions. Only power or action is causative. Even great knowledge has no capacity to affect any behavior. Extrapolating out to the extremes, even omniscience is not causative. No matter how much anyone knows, causation comes from power (energy) applied.

4. Free will is one of the foundational conditions of human existence. Without free will, science is impossible, for we cannot decide between prospective hypothesis, discern between rightful and inferential (or even specious) data, weigh evidences, and decide about conclusions. Therefore, without free will the ability to reason and the consequent legitimate knowledge are impossible. Without free will, basic human realities such as love, kindness, and forgiveness are impossible, for love without choice is nothing but robotic (or forced) response, and isn’t (and can’t be) love, by definition. Raw predestination—without the legitimate component of free will also as part of the picture—is impossible to describe life as we know it. Free will is therefore somehow still necessary as one of the constructs of human existence. (Although predestination as a biblical teaching is indisputable.)

5. We simply cannot rightfully conclude that all of our lives are set in stone to follow a determined course. If this is truly the case, free will is an illusion (as are reasoning and love) and the Bible is deceiving us when it indicates prayer is effective (Genesis 20.17; James 5.15-16).

6. We simply cannot rightfully conclude that all of our lives are set in stone to follow a determined course. God’s plan, in Scripture, pertains to the plan of salvation. The concept of a personal will of God for each one of us that has our lives set on an unalterable path determined by predestination is not a biblical teaching. (Although predestination as a biblical teaching is indisputable.) Predestination, if I have understood the Bible correctly, is always and only expressed in the context of teaching about salvation and not (to my knowledge) about an explanation of all reality.

7. We have to conclude at least four incontrovertible biblical teachings: (1) Predestination is an indisputable truth, (2) free will is necessary, (3) prayer is legitimately effective, (4) God’s inviting us as well as commanding us to pray is not a deceitful sham regarding a practice that would be, if all were determined, an exercise in futility.
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