If God doesn’t change, why is it necessary for us to pray?
I understand your difficulty. If God is changeless and His eternal purpose will be accomplished (Isaiah 46:9-10) no matter what we do, then why pray? The short answer is that God, as a part of His eternal purpose, invites us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7). Jesus encouraged believers to pray and affirms that God will hear us and answer us (Matthew 6:9-13; 7:7-8).
It must be understood that by affirming the immutability (changelessness) of God, we do not mean that God cannot act within human history. The Bible teaches us that world history is actually His Story which has a purpose and is moving toward an end goal. God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable, but He’s also personal—we can have a relationship with Him. The ability to have a relationship with God (or to personally relate to anyone) is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom—we are personal beings because we have been created in the image of a personal God. Tragically, sin and rebellion against God destroyed our relationship with Him. But God countered this rebellion by sending His Son to pay the penalty of our sin on the cross and make a way of salvation for those who believe (John 3:16). Salvation is not just going to heaven when we die; salvation is a restored relationship with God (John 17:3)—which brings us back to prayer.
Prayer (and studying the Bible) is how we carry on a relationship with God. Those who believe God and desire a relationship with Him will pray—those who do not, will not. Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Prayer is literally faith in action. If we believe God exists—we will pray. If we believe that God will answer our prayers just like the Bible says—we will pray. If we believe that the unchanging God can change lives and change situations—we will pray. But unbelievers and scoffers don’t have time for God and they certainly don’t pray. This is why those who believe will be saved, because by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) their relationship with God has been reestablished. But unbelievers will be shut out of God’s kingdom because they refuse to believe God’s Word (John 3:16-18).
How does God answer the prayers of millions of believers without altering His eternal purpose? I’m not sure, but the answer may lie in God’s eternal nature. If God knows the past, present and future perfectly, then He knew what everyone would pray before the foundation of the world. It’s quite possible that the answers to our prayers are already factored into God’s eternal plan. Just think—the answer to our future prayers may already be in progress. This would mean that our prayers really make a difference. But it also means that our lack of prayer make a difference too. Just a thought.
Article by Pastor Billy Elkins.