By Christopher Fisher
In this video, Tom Wagner claims that “prayer changes us, not God.” This is echoed by a host of Christian pastors and teachings, even by the likes of CS Lewis:
I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.
But this sentiment is foreign to the Bible. It has no bases in Biblical theology. Contrasted to this, the entire Bible is filled with God genuinely responding to prayer and often times doing otherwise than He would have done. Exodus 32 is a prime example.
Exo 32:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Exo 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
Exo 32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
Exo 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
The Bible is filled with countless accounts of prayer working. The general idea of prayer is that it is a way to reach God and compel His action:
Psa 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psa 28:6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
Luk 11:11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
1Jn 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1Jn 5:15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Joh 14:14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Joh 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
The idea that “prayer is for us” is not found in the Bible, but in extrapolations based on Platonic theology.