I ask this more in the fashion of a rhetorical question. I ask this in such a way, dear reader, for you to ponder on what I am really asking. I hear it all the time that prayer changes things. If it does, then how can God be immutable? For the record, I am not anti-prayer in the least, but, people tend to not fully grasp what prayer is all about. Prayer isn’t about us causing God to change things…outcomes…but rather, that our will be bent to His will. It is about us submitting to Him, and His will. For instance, look at the land of Ninevah, and God sending Jonah to tell them their impending doom. God is going to pour His wrath upon these heathens. God tells Jonah this in Jonah 1:
” And there is a word of Jehovah unto Jonah son of Amittai, saying: `Rise, go unto Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim against it that their wickedness hath come up before Me.” (vss 1,2) God has told Jonah to tell them He going to destroy them. Then in chapter 3, God told Jonah, after the whale vomitted him out of his belly, “Rise, go unto Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim unto it the proclamation that I am speaking unto thee.”(3:2) This made the second time that God told Jonah that destruction was coming to the land of Ninevah. Jonah told them “`Yet forty days — and Nineveh is overturned.” (Jonah 3:4) Now, they could have went around in the “woe is me” mentality that many have today, but they fasted, took off their clothes and put on sackcloth, even the king did, and all sat in ashes.
In Jonah 3:10 it states this; “And God seeth their works, that they have turned back from their evil way, and God repenteth of the evil that He spake of doing to them, and he hath not done [it].” So, did God change His mind and not destroy them, or was this part of His redemptive plan? I affirm the latter. God is immutable, and changes not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore(Hebrews 13:8).
In actuality, it was Jonah who had to bend his will to God’s. When the Ninevahites heard of the wrath of God to come, they willfully repented, even fasted, took off their own clothes and put on sackcloth, and sat in the ashes, not wanting to be destroyed. When God saw their deeds, He repented of the wicked words He said of what He was going to do to them(3:10). Now, if He knew the end from the beginning(Isa. 46:10), if His works were known from the foundation of the world(Acts 15:18), then He had to know what they were going to do even before He commanded Jonah to go and preach to them. Jonah got miffed that God didn’t destroy them. He even would have preferred to die than live(4:8). God was using Jonah in a way that the Ninevahites would bend their will to His. God was using Jonah in a way that through prayer, they would submit to Him. This is what prayer is truly about.
It’s like those who have a love one near death. They have prayed to God many times to heal them. Yet, in all of this, they have gotten progressively worse, and not better. When it gets to the point where it looks like death is there, they submit their will to Him and ask Him to not let them suffer any more. All the prayers in the world will not change Him, or His mind. If prayer did, in fact, change His mind, then none would die.
Let me close by saying this again. I am not anti-prayer. God ordained prayer as a way for us to communicate with Him. It is through prayer we beseech Him and ask Him to help us, and others, who need His help. Yet, at the end of it all, we always say, let it be in accordance to your will. Maybe not in those exact words, but pretty close. In other words, we always end our prayers with the words “if it be your will”. So, if prayer does change God’s mind, then can He truly be immutable? Ponder on this, dear reader…..