What Prayer Reveals About God

A woman praying with her back against a brick wall

Implicit within prayer is the acknowledgment that God is in control of our lives. If it were not the case that God is in control, it wouldn’t make sense to pray to Him.

In this article I will give a few examples of how Christians trust in God’s omnipotence and omnipresence when they pray. I will explain why such beliefs, while demonstrating the believer’s trust in God’s power, simultaneously create problems for the Christian worldview.

God is in control of our relationships.
For instance, Christians pray to meet a future spouse, or pray for God to grow and bless their friendships, or their marriage.

God is in control of our circumstances.
Christians would naturally pray for God to bless them with a new job. They might pray that God would bless their friends or relatives with a safe journey, indicating God is in control of all circumstances related to transport. Christians often pray for God to plant them in a great church, or to help them pass an exam.

God is in control of the weather.
Christians pray for rain for our crops, or for severe weather to be calmed, or for a bright and sunny wedding day.

God is in control of our bodies.
Christians pray to be healed of sicknesses and diseases.

God is in control of society.
Christians pray for God to raise up good leaders in our political parties, and for Him to protect and bless our countries. Also, Christians regularly pray for God to bless those who are living in poverty, or for those who are being persecuted.

God is in control of evil.
Christians pray for God to deliver them from evil (for instance, by reciting the Lord’s Prayer), and to protect them from the schemes of the devil, or from the wickedness of their enemies.

My argument is that on some level, Christians know that God is in control of everything that happens, and this is reflected in the way they pray to God. But if God is in control of everything that happens, this necessarily implies there is no free will. Therefore central Christian doctrines such as sin, judgment, salvation, and the fall of man, don’t make sense. To read an expansion of this argument I invite you to read my essay entitled An Almighty Predicament which is available here.

Do you believe there are things that are outside of God’s control? With reference to the argument made above, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

31 Comments on “What Prayer Reveals About God

  1. I have an analogy for you, Steven. Of course every human analogy ultimately breaks down, but this one may perhaps help you consider the other position. Of course, this venue won’t ever allow us to have true heart to heart conversation. I hate that about the internet. Would be so much better to sit down in a pub or coffee house and smile and laugh together… and to discuss all the deep questions as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien did. Sigh.

    But even so, I’ll try to express a little of what I’ve been thinking about your post about the Aseity of God and your belief that God’s sovereignty doesn’t allow for free-will. Please humor me here and patiently hear me out… But of course, you will. You are truly a thoughtful and kind person. 🙂 Yet, with all my heart, I wish for you to know that I’m expressing this in light of your invitation to open discussion, one that you so frequently express. So here goes… In you post about the aseity of God, I felt that you missed addressing something clearly… maybe, you have considered it but for the sake of your post’s length and argument, you didn’t address it there. I suspect that may be the case since you truly are a deep thinker.

    Here’s my thought, though… just in case. I believe that a creator and his work are separate. When I create a piece of art, it reflects me, but it is not me. When my husband and I chose to procreate/create life, I knew that while my son gestated in my womb, he was still a separate soul and entity to myself and to an even greater extent, he would be separate from me when he was born. Sure, he shares DNA with my husband and me, but he is a separate being. Of course, while my son lives in my household (or humanity in God’s creation), I can control aspects of my son’s life. But you would agree that if I didn’t allow my son choice and insisted on full control over every area of his life that that would not be a loving relationship; in fact, many would probably consider/argue that such unmitigated control would qualify as abuse.

    Thus, I allow my son to make choices even though I could force my will in every area of his life. He lives in my house and is dependent upon me for many of his basic necessities. Nevertheless, because I love him truly, I allow him the freedom to exercise his freedom of choice in many areas of his life. I ultimately will release him fully to live his life apart from me… but as a truly loving parent, I hope that he will continue to love, respect and follow my teaching/guidance as I know that his life will be more successful and have greater joy and purpose if he follows certain principles. Yes, by allowing for his free choice, I do know that he will suffer the natural consequences/outcomes of any poor choices. Because I know that certain things will bring such dire consequences, I do hedge his circumstances some to preserve his very life and ability to choose it. Yet, I can do this and simultaneously leave him freedom to make his own choices. Of course, at times, especially upon his request, I will intervene to protect him from the very worst that his choices might bring or, on the other hand, to help him achieve the very best outcomes for his life.

    I rejoice when he meets success, and grieve when he fails. Yet, in order to forge a true love-relationship, I allow for that. I would not want my son to be an automaton… to respond to me simply because he had no choice. I wish for a truly loving relationship and exchange with him. I acknowledge that desire by accepting that he is not me and then, by allowing him freedom of choice. I allow all of this while at the same time I know that he reflects both his father and me because we, in essence, created him. We made the choice to do so while fully anticipating what would and could result… both the good and bad. But it was worth it to us. We longed to love a child, our child.

    In a similar way, I think that humanity’s connection to God should be viewed as a relationship… and that is partially how I view the free-will and sovereignty issue. When I procreated, I knew that my son as an individual (separate from me) would rebel against my authority at times; I knew that I would at times have to correct him; and yet, the possibility of a true loving relationship with him outweighed those so-called risks.

    Dunno if this helps you understand my perspective. But for what it is worth, I thought I’d write it down. I so love that you wrestle with your faith. You demonstrate such honesty, and I believe that your quest will find great reward… Scripture says that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. And if you are not a diligent seeker, I don’t know who among us is. 🙂 God bless you, my wonderful friend!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Lynn!

      Many thanks for your thoughtful comment, which despite breaking my house rules, I will approve and respond to because you are always so kind and a good friend of the blog. I only uploaded these guidelines recently, so I don’t expect you to have read them 🙂

      I have heard the analogy you make before, but I believe that God’s nature in relation to created beings is different to that of a human parent and child. For example, your child wouldn’t pray to you to heal their disease, because you aren’t omnipresent in your child’s body the way God is. The reason why we can pray to God for healing, as discussed in the post, is because we intuitively know He is omnipresent, and pervades every part of our bodies.

      To further the anology, if you plant a seed, do you cause it to grow into a tree? No, it is God, through His omnipresent control of all events, who causes the tree to grow. Well, that’s my understanding of God’s sovereignty.

      If you believe that God is separate from creation, in the same way that you are separate from your children, what does this say about the nature of God? It would mean He is limited; that creation is outside of His moment-to-moment control. I suppose you would have to believe in a ‘clockwork universe’, where God said ‘Go!’ and then reclined back in heaven for thousands of years watching everything unfold. But I don’t believe God is like a person, He is instead a spirit that is boundless and limitless.

      Well, that’s how I would respond to your analogy, I’m not sure whether or not is will speak to you, but I have tried to be clear. I agree it would be nice to be able to sit in a pub an talk it all though over a pint! But actually, I’m much more articulate with the pen that with my mouth, so perhaps this is preferable in certain respects!

      Thank you so much for engaging with me on such a deep (and important) issue. I’m always so grateful for your comments.

      God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oops… my comment was too long… i just read your house rules… so sorry… I was responding to three posts in one comment… oops 😣😣 Please forgive me.

        And yes, you are right about the analogy falling short in some ways; as I said, there are ways in which the analogy isn’t perfect. However, I don’t believe in the clockwork theory/theology… this would push things to their simple extremes and I believe there is more of a push and pull in ideas…a balance of conflicting tensions that such a view would not acknowledge. I don’t tend to embrace a it has to be one way or the other way perspective with regards to that. In logic, if I did that, I would embrace the logical fallacy of bifurcation, and I truly try to steer clear of that in my discussions and so, no… i don’t embrace the clockwork perspective. God is so much more complex than that. I will say this, I do nurture my child… feeding his soul and body… for a woman who has nursed (as I have) this is even more literal than one might first suppose.
        I do not think being separate from the creation makes God any less in control. I don’t think I understand how that would necessarily follow… I’m perplexed, Steven. Forgive me. But I do believe that my failure to understand what you mean is probably due to the limitations of the venue. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. While we may never come to a meeting of the minds in this, I truly value you, your friendship and I thank God for the extraordinary privilege of having met you here online! God bless you, my extraordinary friend! Warmly and with much respect and appreciation…always wishing you the very best! Lynn ☺️

        PS I hope this isn’t too long😳😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Lynn! Please don’t worry, I understand that you were responding with a lot of thoughts from various posts, so I’m okay about it and thank you for checking out the rules! Haha.

          It’s a shame in a sense that you are perplexed by my perspective, but I don’t know what I can do to explain more clearly, other than to keep posting about my beliefs from a variety of different angles and maybe one will chime with you and you’ll see where I’m coming from, even if you don’t agree! But if not, no worries!

          I’m also so grateful for your kind and thoughtful comments, and I regard you as a true friend in the blogging world. So I’m happy to respectfully agree to disagree on certain matters 🙂

          God bless you and praying you have a wonderful week! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Thank you so much for your gracious and kind response, Steven! You are a true friend! And that means so much to me. I hope you have a fantastic week! 🙂


  2. As usual, Chris, I agree with your first part, the cause, but not the last part, the effect. I agree that we pray to God for all the reasons you stated, but this doesn’t mean we have no free will. I know this is a jump in logic that you have come to, but no one I know in 31-plus years as a Christian sees it this way because this isn’t taught in the Bible. This thinking is extra-biblical. I know you are still working through these things, and I continue to pray for clarity for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi David. I don’t believe it’s a jump in logic, but rather something that logically follows. And I would say that just because something is unusual doesn’t make it incorrect. There are many places in the Bible where God’s sovereignty over all events is indicated either explicitly or implicitly (see my video on the subject), but I accept there are many doctrines, arguable from Scripture, that don’t sit comfortably with my understanding of the nature of God. Hence my problems with Christianity.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May I seek to answer this as I see it? I do not hold to a doctrine but I am a Christian because I was at the point of extreme danger and called on Him by asking, “If You are truly there and my Savior, please save me now.” In the next 3 days a series of events removed all doubt in my mind and since then I have had joy in my life and sorrow. I have doubted and I have believed. I read the bible daily and accept it on its own terms. It is a linear narrative of a complete story of His plan. It is true God has sovereignty over all things. Yet, if we understand, he also chooses to whether or not to intervene on any particular event. Our minds are finite. His is not. We are told, “Lean not on your own understanding” for a reason. Believe me I’ve agonized over this as a parent who lost a child but I still trust and believe that I will enjoy everlasting life through Jesus. One day the questioning His reasoning stopped for me and I learned to trust. “Knock and He will answer. Seek and you shall find.” That is the true essence. I think you’re seeking. I think you will find.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I too understand how your perception of free will could be misconstrued. The story of our fall and salvation is one we either accept or reject. At some point in all our lives we consciously decide whether our lives are better with or without belief in our Creator and his plan for us. If we decide to let go of our own control willingly it is because we realize our own control as humans most often falls woefully short of fulfillment. Paradoxically we as humans still often give God control over those things we want him to have control over, and still try to remain in control of those we don’t want him to have control over. We are a work in progress. There are no perfect humans. But Christians who truly believe Christ is our salvation know a relationship with Him and seek him through prayer for our needs. We are 100% free every day to decide which road we will travel. We can accept or reject God’s love for us daily. Fortunately He often searches us out and brings us home when we stray.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I feel your answer is in your post. If there is no free will why would God allow us to pray to Him? What would be the purpose of Him having us pray to Him? If He is controlling our every move, He, by this theory, is making us pray, asking Him for things that He is already going to do, or not do. Why would we need to, or He even allow this process? Why does He say we should love Him, if there is no other choice? All through the Bible, especially the Old Testament He tells us to obey His law, why would He tell us that if there wasn’t a choice? He says if we don’t obey, there are consequences. Why would the option of not obeying exist, if there isn’t a choice? The Bible is full of do right choices, or face the consequences. I don’t understand why God would give us the option, if He was making all the choices. God bless you and thank you Steve for this thought provoking subject.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Margaret! All excellent questions, and questions I have thought about and covered in my writing on this blog, in my essays, and in my books. So please forgive me for not giving a long answer here, you did ask many questions and I don’t like to go into too much depth in the comments. God bless you as well, I appreciate your engagement!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do apologise Steven 🙂 I haven’t been reading your blog long, and although I’ve tried to download your essays, several times after my first visit to you blog, to see if the answer was there but wasn’t able to do so.. Pretty sure it’s my internet connection. The joys of living in the boonies hahaha. I also didn’t mean it to seem like a lot of questions, it’s really one. Why would God tell us to make choices, He is making them? I guess that one question was bogged down in all of my examples. I’m always looking for information to help me understand others points of view. God bless you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Margaret! No need to apologise! I’m grateful that you tried to download my essays and I’m sorry that for whatever reason you weren’t able to. I know other people have been able to download them so unfortunately, it could be a problem your end.

          I’ll try to give a brief answer to your question about prayer. I believe that the whole of creation is like a game, or play, or theatre production, with God as the animator. I believe He unfolds the story of creation as a means of self-expression – to glorify Himself. As part of the ‘game’, we are sometimes given the illusion of free will, but this is really just a mode of mind under God’s control. As part of the illusion, we make decisions that might feel free, but really God is in control of them. Prayer is just one aspect of this great cosmic animation that God is unfolding.

          Well, that’s my understanding, whether you agree or not I hope I have expressed that in a way that you can get your head around! Thank you and God bless you!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I am sure it’s on my end, Steven. I live where internet is ok at best 🙂

            I appreciate you giving me a brief synopsis of your feelings on this matter. I am always interested in others beliefs. If this makes sense it helps strengthen my faith, so for me it is a blessing. I appreciate anyone who loves God, and is willing to stand behind that love. I am interested in what you think about Jesus but I will wait until it comes up in your blog, as this isn’t the topic at hand.

            Thank you, Steven, for your patience, kind responses, and taking my curiosity with the love, and interest that I intended. As my intentions are not to prove you wrong or change your views but with pure curiosity :):)

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I finished your book! How wonderful it was. It is so joyful to explore all possibilities! I find nothing in your philosophy which contradicts my beliefs. You have a very high IQ of that I’m sure. To not question everything would be denying the natural for you. I’m glad to be following your posts. I will be reading your second book.

    Liked by 1 person

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