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Category: Prayer

A conversation with Chris Shahgholi–assistant pastor of a baptist church–about the nature and uses of prayer. Does prayer work?

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Prayer Fails if God is Omniscient

prayer failsPrayer fails, and must fail, if the outcome has already been predetermined. If you had already decided that you would feed your son, the consequence of him refusing to ask for food cannot be “starvation.” To allow him to starve would contradict the meaning of preordain. It is using an incorrect terminology. It would be more appropriate to say that  I want, hope, or encourage him to ask. It is not necessary for him to do so when I have predetermined to feed him anyway.

Prayer fails and necessarily so.

If God is omniscient, if his plan and foresight are infinite and unyielding, then prayer cannot manipulate his divine, inimitable, predetermined course of action. If God is omniscient, prayer must fail.

If prayer accords with God’s preordination then it still cannot be claimed to affect change because it has not. The event would have taken place regardless of any supplication. Prayer fails to affect change. It is again impotent.

You stated that although prayer lacks any causal effect on God’s will, it remains necessary because “God said so.”

We previously agreed that necessary means inevitably resulting so that the contrary is impossible. To say that prayer is necessary because “God said so,” is to corrupt the meaning of the term. It is to say that I have no choice but to pray. To say that prayer is necessary is ultimately confounded by the millions of fulfilled millions who do not pray and even made laughable when compared to even larger number of people who pray on a regular basis yet live in fear, hunger and persecution. To say prayer is necessary is to rob humanity of its free will and therefore of moral obligation and ultimately of original sin.

Despite its sanguine compassion, when prayer is disentangled from its solemnity and benevolence, it is betrayed as the impotent yearnings of humans who desire to affect change yet lack the propensity or inclination to accomplish it themselves.

The Christian Worldview

Christian WorldviewThe consequences are starvation. I (solely in this illustration of course) have outlined a standard that when my son has hunger that I will feed him. There is ,however, a necessity that he ask for it.

So I think you have actually exposed a good point. The reason prayer is necessary is because God said so.

And I am not trying to posit a strawman or be obtuse…

But, from the Christian worldview the reason we do what we do (including prayer) is in obedience to God.

Additionally, I am not sure why preordained knowledge by one party effects the necessity of the other party to ASK.

Preordained clarification

preordainedPreordained  and necessary  clarification.

“Preordained:” to be determined beforehand.

“Necessary:” inevitably resulting, so that the contrary is impossible.

Referring to the allegory you provided, what are the consequences of your son not asking for food?

If you refuse to provide the required sustenance, then your answer cannot have been preordained.

If you provide it, then his asking for it cannot have been necessary.

Answered prayer – what does it mean?

answered prayerNeil, I would agree with those definitions.

Therefore if I pray that God provide an opportunity to speak with an unsaved person about the Gospel , although it is preordained, and I am presented with that opportunity , it is in effect an “answered” prayer. From my view the prayer was “answered”, it is irrelevant that it was preordained to occur.

I will agree that the prayers do not produce the results, everything is a result of God’s hand.

Answered prayer in scripture

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

(Daniel 4:35)

The effectiveness, however, is successful. Although preordained the prayer is a component of the result.

In a Father – Son relationship there will come times that my son will be hungry and ask me for food. And I guarantee you that I have preordained the answer to be “yes”. My son , however, needs to ask me for the food. And although it is preordained that I will answer “yes”, his asking for it is still a necessary component.

Prayer doesn’t Work? Hidden contradictions

prayer doesn't workPrayer doesn’t work if we examine the meaning of a few terms.

“Effective”: Successful in producing a desired or intended result.

“Produce”: to cause (a particular result or situation) to happen or exist: (Oxford Dictionary)

You stated that God’s will is sovereign and cannot be reorientated by prayer.

Why Prayer doesn’t work.

If a prayer is contrary to God’s plan, then it does not happen, it does not produce the desired result. It is ineffective.

If a prayer is concordant with God’s plan, it does not produce the result because that effect has already been ordained. It does not affect God’s will. It does not cause the event to take place. It is impotent. Prayer doesn’t work.