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Author Topic: Prayer vs Freewill  (Read 1638 times) Average Rating: 0
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sinjinsmythe
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« on: August 21, 2003, 05:38:15 PM »


How is God's ability to answer prayer affected inversely by mankinds free will?

Can any prayer be answered through a person without free will being negated in some way?

Example A)
Kathy has gotten behind on her house payments. The bank is now threatening to forclose on her. She prays to God to please help her find a way out of her dire financial situation.
Suddenly the phone rings. It's Kathy's friend Tim. He's just inherited some money and knowing that Kathy is struggling offers to loan her the money she needs till she's back on her feet.

Is this an answer to prayer? How has God helped Kathy?

If the resulting solution to Kathy's problem is the effect of God's intervention how did he do it? Did he get force Tim to offer the money, thus negating Tim's free will? If Tim gave the money of his own free will how has God got anything to do with it? How has he answered prayer?


Example B)
Jimmy is out late at night and looking for a cab. It's starting to rain and there are some suspicious looking people around. Jimmy is getting scared as well as tired and wet. Jimmy prays to God to help him get home safely.
Suddenly Jimmy's friend Sally drives by and sees him. She stops to pick him up and offers him a lift home. Jimmy feels this is an answer to prayer.

How could God have intervened to answer the prayer without interfering with the free will of Sally?
Did he force/influence Sally to drive by and pick up Jimmy?
If so is not Sally's free will negated in this case.
If not and Sally chose that way home of her own free will, how has God answered this prayer at all?

Do you see where I'm going with this?? And you can apply this logic to millions of examples which would commonly be considered answers to prayer.

Someone has a need, prays for this need to be fulfilled, the need is fulfilled by another person, if God influenced that other person to fulfill the need it negates free will, if God did not , then he's not interfering at all and thus not answering the prayer.



I found that posted on another board. The same questions have come to my mind many times.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2003, 05:39:36 PM by sinjinsmythe » Logged

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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2003, 06:18:53 PM »

People have been wrestling with the relationship between God's Sovereignty (which includes answering prayer) and man's "free will" for ages.   The Bible clearly teaches both.  In Protestantism, error can (and does) result when one is emphasized at the expense of the other (Eg. Hyper-Calvinism on one hand and Open-Theism on the other).

We must remember, that first our freedom is not unlimited.  For instance, I didn't choose my parents, or where I was born or raised.  I'm a 5'8" white boy with a less than average vertical leap, so regardless of my free choice, I'll probably never be able to slam dunk a basketball.   On the other hand, I've been blessed to be born to the parents that I have in the nation that I have.  This has clearly given me opportunities that others do not, and yet I had no choice in these areas.   Although I have been given the gift of volition (free will) I don't have unlimited ways in which to use my will.  However, in a given SITUATION I still have the choice in how to respond (except perhaps if I was held at gun point--even then I can choose to an extent what to do).

Now God sits outside and above time and has perfect omniscience knowing all things actual and possible including the "free" choices of man.  Because of this, it is no problem for God to arrange His creation providentially to achieve a certain outcome while taking into account free will.  This includes the answers to prayer.  So in your examples, the individuals were exercising their free wills in the situations they encountered (perhaps answering a prompt from God) and yet it was God who arranged those free decisions to come about to accomplish His purpose.  

This of course touches on the whole question of foreknowledge and predestination, both of which are Biblical concepts.  But enough rambling for now...
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Linus7
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2003, 01:47:44 AM »

DT's answer is excellent.

I would like to add something that may seem a pious platitude but is true nonetheless.

We cannot understand God and how He has organized reality.

That does not mean we cannot wonder about such things, but it does mean we should not be surprised if we just don't get it.

If a person could understand all that God does, that person would be God's equal, at least in intellect.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2003, 01:48:57 AM by Linus7 » Logged

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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2003, 07:51:35 AM »

DT's answer is excellent.

I would like to add something that may seem a pious platitude but is true nonetheless.

We cannot understand God and how He has organized reality.

That does not mean we cannot wonder about such things, but it does mean we should not be surprised if we just don't get it.

If a person could understand all that God does, that person would be God's equal, at least in intellect.

Thanks for the kind words.  I agree particularly with your last sentence.  If God could be fully comprehended by someone such as any of us, then He wouldn't be a very big god.  God graciously reveals enough about Himself to man so that we can love Him, worship Him, obey Him, and be saved.  However, as God is infinite, there is so much more about Him that we cannot know or understand.  That's why He's God and we aren't.  Smiley
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"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33
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