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Magic Eight Ball and Answered Prayer

The "Magic Eight Ball" Tecnique of Answered PrayerWhile teaching a course called Theological Foundations for Leaders, I love to get the tough questions which eager students think up. Recently I was asked about the connection between Predestination and Prayer.  I think they really meant Providence but the question still works.

Here is my response.  "This is a "it's easy to fall off on both sides of the horse" question.  Seems like the Bible says we cannot change God's eternal decrees but that prayer does "move" God because he is a relational being.

Makes me think of two Christian football coaches who both pray that their team will win.

Hum, what do you do with that?  Did God decree that the Gladiators would win while he decreed that the Hornets would lose?  This is a silly example but it illustrates the difficulty of this question.

Seems that we can pray with a spirit of "Lord, teach me to pray" trusting that He knows best in how he answers.  Some people believe that God will not work unless we pray but this puts God at the mercy of a praying person rather than the other way around.

I have observed people getting paralyzed as they consider the implications of predestination and providence.  They think "why should I share the gospel with people if he hasn't chosen them?" and "why should I pray if God has already decreed everything that comes to pass?"

The simple answer is He commands us to evangelize and pray.

We are a "secondary cause" in the execution of his decrees because He is the "primary cause" of all things.  Hope this helps and doesn't bring more confusion to your friend."

How have you reconciled this mystery?