Does Prayer Change Things?

Q. I had a question on prayer. Does prayer change God’s mind? Or is God changed by prayer? According to Hosea 11:8b it says, “My heart is changed within me. All my compassion is aroused.” Indicating that God changed his mind. Or King Hezekiah when the LORD extended his life 15 years in 2 Kings 20. Also, in James 5:16b it says, “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much…”

On the contrary, in 1 Samuel 15:29 it says “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; He is not a man that He should change His mind.” Also in Malachi 3:6 says “I the LORD do not change.” And somewhere, I couldn’t find where, it says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So I was just wondering if you could help me seek truth with respect to God changing His mind through prayer.

A. While God knows the end from the beginning, He also promises to answer our prayers. To me this means that since He knows in advance what we’re going to ask Him, He’s already accounted for our prayers in His knowledge of how things will turn out. Only the fact that God stands outside the time domain allows this apparent contradiction take place.

An example I’ve used before is in Matt. 24:20 where He advised Jews living in Israel to flee when the anti-Christ reveals himself at the end of the age. Then He urged them to pray that their flight not take place in the winter or on a Sabbath. The fact that the anti-Christ will reveal himself is predetermined . The actual timing can be influenced by the prayers of believing Jews alive in Israel at the time. He already knows this and has taken it into account.

The verse you’re referring to is Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

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