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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why pray if God is omnipotent and omniscient?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Question: Why pray if God is omnipotent and omniscient? 
In other words, what's the point of prayer of petition, especially if God's will is going to be done anyway?
I've heard it said that the reason we pray is not because it changes God, but that it changes us.  I think this is a good and appropriate answer, but I also think it is incomplete.

This is from Peter Kreeft's book, "The God Who Loves Us" and I think wiser words were never written to answer this question.  He states: 
"Why pray?  Because we are commanded to.  Pascal answers, “God instituted prayer to communicate to his creatures the dignity of causality.”  If you say that we should not pray because God already knows our needs, then you must say that we should not farm or eat or read for the same reason.  God lets us really cause events and really lets us make a difference not only by physical work but also by spiritual work."

That is, in giving us the "dignity of causality" God has allowed us the supreme privilege of being able to actually cause a change in events. We are given the dignity of working (spiritually as it were, through prayer) to effect (or cause) a result, just as it is indeed a privilege to be able to do physical work (Monday mornings notwithstanding .  (Think of the spoiled and obnoxious adult who has had every single thing handed to him, never having to lift a finger.  This type of "inability to work" corrodes our humanity.  Thus, it is indeed a supreme privilege to be able to work/labor. And God has given us the dignity of being allowed to do spiritual work (i.e pray) for an effect.)

Thus, God does not miraculously produce wheat in our fields.  We must farm them in order to get our food.  And God does not miraculously produce cures in our ill.  We must pray these healings into existence and by our prayers contribute to causing a change.  "If it is foolish and impudent to ask for victory in a war (on the ground that God might be expected to know best), it would be equally foolish and impudent to put on a mackintosh - does not God know best whether you ought to be wet or dry?  The two methods by which we are allowed to produce events may be called work and prayer. Both are alike in this respect – that in both we try to produce a state of affairs which God has not (or at any rate not yet) seen fit to provide 'on HIS own'. And from this point of view the old maxim laborare est orare (work is prayer) takes on a new meaning. “What we do when we weed a field is not quite different from what we do when we pray for a good harvest."source.

An interesting corollary to this discussion arises about what God's will is and if we can "change" it through our prayer.  God, in one sense, does not and cannot "change". And all that occurs is part of His Will.  However, there's a difference between God's antecedent will, and God's consequent will.  The antecedent will is, essentially and inevitably, fulfilled.  The consequent will, however, is that which has its origins in our choices. 


For more in-depth study visit these websites:


"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

47 comments:

  1. However, there's a difference between God's antecedent will, and God's consequent will. The antecedent will is, essentially and inevitably, fulfilled. The consequent will, however, is that which has its origins in our choices.
    What do means by this statement ?
    God knows wat choices we will make so why 2 wills of him. Plz reply Sir

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    1. What is meant by God's antecedent will vs God's consequent will is that God permits things to happen based on our choices.

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    2. And while it is true that God know what choices we will make, he does not cause them. That is, even though God knows I was going to choose to wear red today, that's not the same thing as saying God caused me to wear red.

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  2. Thank you. I have many questions to ask but I am not able to find one. So ill ask you. Its not related to this topic. If God is love then how can he curse or show wrath on someone or send spirit to trouble? Becous in 1 samuel 16:14 it says. Plz Answer

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    1. God doesn't curse or show wrath or send spirits to trouble, jacob. Those are manners of speaking, or "anthropomorphisms". That is the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

      Just like when the Bible talks about God having the wings of eagles, we don't literally think God is floating around heaven with feathers on His back.

      It's a way of talking about God in order to make a point.

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  3. How the judgement will be made on men that don't know christ before dying. Or not even listen about him ever? Will they be cast to hell or heaven how the judgement will be made?

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    1. No one is ever cast to hell for not knowing Christ before dying, jacob.

      Those who are in hell are there by their own choosing. They see the love of Christ, yet find it abhorrent and repulsive.

      God's light still shines on them, but they turn away, eternally, because they find it odious. That's what hell is.

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    2. Sir you are brilliant that was very much help full. Thank you

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  4. Sir if a person dies due to a sickness. So is it God's plan for him or is it satan invaded in it ? And if satan invades how God can allow him to do so ?

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    1. jacob, when someone dies due to sickness, it's not from satan. Illness comes from bad microorganisms and/or poor immune system.

      Sometimes bad things happen to us because of our choices; sometimes bad things just happen because there's sin in the world.

      God makes it all right in the end. God made it right 2000 years ago on the Cross.

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    2. That's very clever of you.
      Sir when God is omnipotent and omniscient then why didn't he change something in timeline when Adam and Eve were about to be in sin. Or even before when lucifer was about to sin?. And can lucifer change his mind and come back to God like humans do ?

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    3. Just so you know, I'm a woman, not a man. :)

      And God doesn't want us to be robots, where he programs us do good and avoid evil. Free Will is the gift he gave to all humanity. So if God changed something in the timeline and made Adam and Eve not sin, then they is like a puppet master directing a play. And those who "love" Him haven't freely chosen to do this. They've only been programmed to do this.

      Who wants to live in a world like that, jacob? Thank God for your free will!

      And no, Lucifer's choice, like all the angels, was given once for all. They either chose for God, or against God.

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    4. Sorry Madam I was not knowing that you are a women. Can I know your name?
      That was very useful.
      But then the question remains when lucifer is against God then what was he doing in heaven talking to God in book of Job in 1 chapter itself ?

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    5. Not sure why you think Lucifer can't talk to God?

      And the Book of Job is fully of metaphors, symbolism, literary stylistic flourishes. From the Catholic Encyclopedia: "Many look upon the entire contents of the book as a freely invented parable which is neither historical nor intended to be considered historical;" http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08413a.htm

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. Then what position or status does lucifer has. In India people treat him like he is king of hell and he governs it. I really fail to understand what is truth ?. And exactly what role does he play in our lives or on earth or heaven ? Because he was an angel and he was knowing that he has no chance to win against God then why did he choose to do it its insane ? What do you think madam ?

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    8. Satan has been defeated by the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, jacob!

      We have already won!

      He can whisper falsehoods in our ear, but if we have the armor of Christ, strengthened by the sacraments, we will not be fooled.

      Why did he choose away from God rather than for God? For the same reason that we all choose to sin: sometimes we decide, "it doesn't matter if this is wrong, I want to do it anyway"!

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    9. Ok. Thats interesting
      No I am protestant christain but we are one in christ.

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    10. Yes, we are indeed one in Christ.

      What is it that is keeping you from becoming Catholic?

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    11. No. Nothing is keeping me from being a true catholic. Becous it doesn't matter in catholic or protestant as long as we believe in trinity . And have jesus in life.

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    12. But do have some problem with some of catholics in India. Becous they follow all rituals of hindus. Like sacrificing coconut and bathing jesus with milk and doing his pooja(India word) . And putting his image and idols of him and worshiping him and touching his legs for blessing. It might sound nothing weired to it but it kind of encourages hindu's to idiols worshipping. But some of them which I know personally are much correct in their believe s. I am not judging other. But I can kind of comfortable with them.

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    13. I really love to talk to you . where I can ask questions that I am struggling with. Which kind of we cannot ask in our church or parents.
      So Thank you very much

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    14. I am enjoying our conversation, too. And this is a fine place to ask questions you're struggling with.

      As far as "it doesn't matter" if you're Catholic or Protestant, as long as we believe in the trinity and have Jesus in your life....where did you get this idea? Does the Bible say this? Or did someone just tell you this and you believed it?

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    15. With regard to some Catholics in India following some pagan rituals, I don't think it's a good idea to look at Catholics who don't follow Church teaching and decide that they're representative of Catholics.

      Best to look at what the Church actually teaches.

      Is there a particular Church teaching you have a problem with?

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    16. As there were no catholic and protestant in back jesus days. So it's not wirrten in bible. But expanding the thought of paul in galatians 3.28 about jews and gentiles and so on and in end its says we are one in christ. What difference does it make in being catholic and protestant ?

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    17. I am not so familiar with the teaching in catholic church I assume they might be teaching from bible itself so I have any objection to it. Y should I have? As long as it is from holyspirit .

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    18. Yes, in one sense we are all one in Christ, but in another sense, we are very, very much fractured and splintered, and this is NOT the will of God.

      Here's a list of just a few of the things that there is no unity on, in the Christian faith.
      -Baptism--does it save you? Or is it just an ordinance? Must it be done in infancy? Or only when one has chosen to do this? Must it be done by immersion, or is sprinkling valid? Must it be done in the Trinitarian formula, or only in Jesus' Name?

      Is divorce and remarriage permitted? Or is it adultery?

      Can women be ordained as priests? Or only men?

      Is Sunday the Lord's day? Or is it Saturday?

      How many sacraments are there?

      When we die, does our soul "sleep"? Or is our soul immortal and eternal?

      Is God's holy name Jehovah?

      Is praying in tongues required as a manifestation of your being a true Christian?

      Are we going to be Raptured into heaven?

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    19. All of those questions are very, very important--so important that historically men have left the Catholic Church to establish their own religion because they disagreed with their pastor about this so deeply.

      (Or, if they didn't leave the Catholic Church to start their own church because of this issue, they left a church which broke off originally from the Catholic Church).

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    20. These are major questions of Bible. And I have been studying on it. I have taught some of the questions that are mentioned above in my youth group .
      About baptism luke says in 3.16 that I baptize with water but he will batize with holyspirit. So I say when u receive Jesus in your life he baptizes u with holy

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    21. Spirit and that is what true baptism there is no age limit or ritual or method that we apply to Jesus himself. But the other part about imersion and sprinking I don't take is as big deal becous its just method. In North India in rajasthan desert people are baptized by sand as no water. I dnt mind by that way and in South instead of grape juice they give coconut water in holy communion as they government is serious about alcohol. They miss understand it . I give much preference to baptism becous in India there are many Gods so they accept Jesus as God but one of their Gods . so we hav to make them understand and then baptise them as they accept jesus as only God. And by that he say themselves as christains. So method is not necessary. And we should give baptism becous its lords great commision and give it by trinity by in great commision it sm f it says

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    22. Thanks for your comments, jacob. When you say "I don't take it as big deal because it's just method"-how do you know what God considers a big deal or not? In fact, some men who read the Bible have considered it a big deal---such a big dealt that they leave their church and establish a new one, just on one particular issue!

      That's why we need a central authority, a Church, to answer definitively, what the answers are to the above questions.

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    23. Also, I'm curious where you get your list of what's "necessary" and what's not? For example, you believe that method isn't important...but what Bible verse tells you this?

      What Bible verse tells you that you that believing in the trinity is necessary?

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    24. I think so I should not judge the people who felt but I think culture also play an important role in it. One has to take care of culture as well as bible. All people are influenced by their culture the people who left probably they had some culture issue coming in their way of understanding. Becous in my church itself I see people getting affected by culture. Means they look at the bible by their culture.

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    25. I don't have one list of necessary thing but while taking decisions I pray n say tell whats your will and I ask to people about their opinion and I do it not always but sometimes.
      The whole bible tell us to believe in trinity. Like if u have seen me u hav seen father. And ill send u a helper my spirit.Jesus whenever he talk he is always mentioning his father and holyspirit.my do what I saw my father doing and my father has given me authority.

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    26. In my hometown people are really in very rituals and method of worshipping God and pleasing him. Method of impressing him and method to have a peacefully life n all wired kind of stuff. Its like they have left the real aim but more focused on rituals and method . so I they it is necessary for them to release from methods. And I think God will surely understand the situation need and purpose.

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    27. Yes, culture should be considered in one's religious practices. The Catholic Church does that in every corner of the globe.

      However, there are some things which are non-negotiables, so, for example, if a cultural belief is that babies born with some sort of mental deficiency should be left to die in the cold, we as a Christian Church say: NO! This is wrong!

      But if it's something like, "We dance during the Our Father to show our love for God", then that should be incorporated into the Mass.

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    28. So if you don't have a list of "necessary things" to believe as a Christian, what do you do when someone disagrees with you about what's necessary? Let's say there's another Christian who has prayed very hard, and has determined that HOW you are baptized (it MUST be by immersion), is very, very important. What do you do then?

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    29. In mark 7-7,8 Jesus is breaking the law of sabath like don't do anything. But he says ur missing the main purpose to pharisees.

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    30. The above comment was for method and tradition.
      If its in my authority ill ask him how he wants n do in that way. But if here is scarcity of water ill say him bring your own water ill imerse you.
      And about remaraige paul in corinth say don't remarry. And I agree with him and also for divorce dnt do it.

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    31. So I'm still confused about what you consider "necessary" to believe as a Christian?

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    32. And about the sabath day. Let me ask u a question what God is doing after 7 day. We don't knw becous chapter 1 things are not repeated so he might be resting till now. So every day is sabath day. And humans made calender like sunday n Monday but God created days and we don't knw which day was it. Or even who much time he needed to speak a word to create universe. As he beyond time limit.
      I don't know about sacraments.
      And I think are soul is immortal and its goes to God in heaven. Becous Jesus gives eg. Of lazarus and rich man so lazarus dies and to God and seats side abraham.
      Jehovah might be his name but we cannot name him like humans. Becous to mosses he say I am who I am. So who know. If he had specific name we would be able to call him Abba or friend teacher etc but we would call him by name.
      Taking is tongue is really a problem. In my hometown people believe that taking in tongues means u have holyspirit. But they forget that holyspirit is within us tongues is a gift of spirit like other gifts. Paula says in corinth that give more preference to prophecy tongues is good but try to get prophecy.
      In didnt get ur last question about rapture into heaven plz explain.
      These are my thoughts im not saying these are only right but right to me. Probably different to u becous God has unique relation with everyone. And I believe our past has a big role in taking or decided ing a dicission. So God has given everyone a different past. So everyone thinking might be different.
      I am wrong plz pray for me So that God can correct me.

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    33. My point is that unless you follow the original Church, the Catholic Church, you got lots of different ideas about what God wants from just reading the Bible. You need a central authority to direct you to what God really meant.

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    34. Ok. Im glad u said that.there should be a central authority.

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    35. Yes, jacob. You should look into joining the Catholic Church, which is the Church Jesus established. It is the Church which can trace its roots back to Christ and His Apostles.

      Every other church (except the Orthodox) is a church which broke off from another church for doctrinal reasons.

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    36. But I see no difference in it. Becous God is working in our church in a great way.I think leaving that church is not a good idea but to make is better is.

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