If God is already doing the most he can do, how does prayer increase his influence?

Question: If God always does the most that he can in every tragic situation, as you claim in Satan and the Problem of Evil,  how can you believe that prayer increases his influence, as you also claim?  It seems if you grant that prayer increases God’s influence, you have to deny God was previously doing the most he could do before people prayed.

Answer:  I don’t believe there’s any inconsistency believing that God always does the most God can do, on the one hand,  and believing that prayer sometimes changes God’s mind, on the other, if one believes, as I do, that God has bound himself to work within the variables the condition free will.   One of the most important of these variables, I believe, is prayer.  As I argue in Satan and the Problem of Evil,  because God wants a “bride” who co-rules with him on earth (Rev. 5:10), he has set up things such that, to some degree, his will shall not be done except when his bride aligns her will with his in prayer. Since he’s all good, God is always doing the most he can do to maximize the good and minimize the evil. But God’s involvement in the world is genuinely conditioned by the prayers of his people. When they prayer, God can do more than he was doing previously.  This isn’t about him gaining more power. It’s about God creating a world in which agents genuinely share power and responsibility with him.

Related Reading

Why a “Christocentric” View of God is Inadequate: God’s Self-Portrait, Part 5

I’m currently working through a series of blogs that will flesh out the theology of the ReKnew Manifesto, and I’m starting with our picture of God, since it is the foundation of everything else. So far I’ve established that Jesus is the one true portrait of God (See: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).…

How do you respond to Romans 8:29?

“For whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.” One of the greatest treasures given to believers when they open their hearts to the Lord is the promise that they shall certainly be “conformed to the…

Does your “dispositional” ontology avoid substantival categories?

Question: In Trinity and Process you argue against a “substantival” ontology and instead advocate a “relational,” “process” and/or “dispositional” ontology in which being, being-in-relation and being-in-process are one and the same. In your view, entity x is its relation to entity y (and all other relations) and is the disposition to interact with y (and…

What is the significance of Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4–10; 4:2?

God “changed his mind” (3:10) about the destruction he planned to carry out on Nineveh. If all events in history are eternally settled and known by God as such, his word to Jonah that he planned to destroy Nineveh in forty days was insincere as was his inspired testimony that he in fact changed his…

Topics:

Bowing to the American Flag. Literally.

Kurt Willems shared this interesting item he found on Amazon. In the product description it admonishes us to: Submit yourself to the Prayer Bench and open up your life to receive more of God. Hmmmmmm. How about we just submit ourselves to God?

Is Free Will compatible with Predestination?

Question: Isn’t “freedom” simply our ability to do what we want? And if this is so there seems to be no incompatibility between saying that a person is “free” on the one hand, but predestined (or at least foreknown) by God, on the other. But why do you say that freedom is not compatible with…