Monday, February 26, 2007

Ware on Prayer

I've just about finished reading Their God Is Too Small by Bruce Ware. It's a critique of open theism and it's very good. (I need to declare an interest right away: Dr. Ware was one of my theology professors at Western. I loved his class, so I'm predisposed to like his books.)

Ware answers the question of what difference our prayers actually make if God exhaustively knows the future and if He sovereignly ordains whatsoever comes to pass (see Westminster Confession chapter 3)?

"So, just how does our prayer make a difference? Simply put, in his kindness, God has designed that his good and perfect will be accomplished, in some respects, only as his people pray and first ask for God so to work. The role of prayer, then, becomes necessary to the accomplishing of these certain purposes, and our involvement in prayer, then, actually functions to assist in bringing these purposes to fulfillment. God has designed some of his purposes to be accomplished only as we pray.

"Now, why would God set things up this way? Why not just accomplish what he wishes, without the necessity of prayer? Here's the answer (are you ready to marvel?): God wants our participation with him in the work that he is doing, and so he 'invented' prayer as a mechanism that draws us into that very anticipation and execution of the fulfillment of some of his purposes. Prayer invites our participation, and prayer involves our necessary (by God's design) role. Could God just 'do it'? Yes, of course! But here is a God who shares bountifully with those whom he loves. And his sharing here is a sharing in the fulfillment of the plans and purposes he has set by his infinite wisdom and under his matchless authority (so we're not going to change God's mind - literally!). What kindness. What generosity. Prayer is one of God's tools to pull us into the center of the work that he has devised and is carrying out. By prayer, we long for what God's Spirit prompts us to pray, and as we pray according to his will, we anticipate and believe in the unfolding of just what God has designed to come about. When it does come about, our prayers are answered, we rejoice, God is glorified, and we understand better - from the inside, as it were - just what God had planned all along." (pp. 98-99).


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