Sunday, November 01, 2009

Prayer in God's Plan

Prayer in God's Plan

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 
(Matt. 6:5-6)

If God has a plan, then that plan would be based on the total available knowledge of the universe. We should expect that a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent being would have created the perfect plan. God would have thought of all possible actions and all possible effects of those actions and set in motion the best plan available. God would have no reason to ever alter this plan because by its very nature it must be THE perfect plan.

If we pray to God, then we are asking him to listen to mere humans and change his plan accordingly. We are asking him to alter the perfect plan for something less than perfect. This would seem to be not only against God's inherent nature, but also rather arrogant on our part. After all, who are we to tell God how to run the universe. Any prayer that we may make, God has already taken into account.

But perhaps God's Plan has a little wiggle room. Maybe there are alternate paths from point A to point B that would not affect the final outcome of the plan. In that case, God could answer some prayers and not others depending on whether or not it would affect some portion of his plan.

If God does answer prayers in this 'gray area' of life, then it means that God is interfering with humanity's free will. He would be interfering in the normal course of events that we rely on when making decisions. When we decide to take an action we weigh our decisions based on our knowledge of the universe and our personal history. If God can interfere in that process in an unknown and random way, we are no longer capable of making decisions 'freely'. There is information on which we are basing our decisions, that could be overridden by God in the final outcome.

If there is no God or if God does not interfere in the universe by answering prayers, then the outcome of any decisions that I make are my responsibility. I can be held accountable for my actions. If God can change the outcome of my actions based on someone else's prayer, then how can I be held responsible for anything that I do. How would I know whether the result was my fault or simply a change made by God?

If God does interfere when someone prays, does he also interfere when they don't? I would say that he doesn't, after all, the events that play out without prayer are the events already established in God's Plan. If no one asks, he would presumably allow events to unfold without interference. That brings us back to the question of all of the bad things that happen in life.

I sincerely doubt that very many people actually pray for bad things to happen to others. And assuming God is good, it's unlikely that God would actually grant their wishes. So, if no one is praying for tsunamis, earthquakes, rapes, murders, etc., then they must be key elements in the Divine Plan.

If God does exist, then he either can or cannot interfere in the natural course of events. If he cannot, then prayer is of no value and God does not live up to the definition of a god. If he can interfere, then he does so in response to prayer or he does not. If he does not, then again prayer is of no value and the Bible's emphasis on prayer makes no sense. If God does respond to prayer, then he is altering the perfect plan to cater to the ephemeral whims of humanity and in essence has no Divine Plan. One person's prayers may be in conflict with someone else's prayers. God cannot entertain both sets of prayers and so again prayer is of no value.

Jesus said:
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 
(Matt. 18:19)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 
(John 14:12-14)

Apparently, no two true believers have ever gathered together and prayed for an end to hunger, or poverty, or a cure for cancer, or world peace. It seems more likely that prayers are not answered than that two believers don't exist. So again, PRAYER IS OF NO VALUE.

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