I’ll preface this by saying that I am not a Christian or a believer of any kind, but I do have a lot of experience with Christianity: the majority of my family is Christian and I am originally from the Bible belt.
Now that that’s out of the way, my question is this: when something tragic happens - sudden illness, an accident, etc. - why do people ask others to pray for the affected party? What I mean is, do some Christians believe that the amount of prayer can have a direct affect on God’s will?
Please note - I’m not asking about prayer for the afflicted’s loved ones. That I understand. Prayer for comfort, for strength, for peace of mind, etc.
can you put this into words? In sitting here trying and I just can’t. It’s something that makes so much sense to me I can’t explain it properly lol
I can at least try…haha
I will say, my beliefs on this (as are many of my beliefs about the Trunie’s interactions in the world) aren’t exactly mainstream Christianity. Thus, I know I’m coming from a place that isn’t necessarily considered “traditional.” But, this is my attempt in articulating my understanding of this.
A presupposition that I hold is necessary to point out before I answer: I believe in a partially open future. As in, God has self-limited himself/herself in order to allow for genuine free will in this world. Thus, God doesn’t “know” the future in the way that he (or we) “know” the past. It is open, not settled. This has nothing to do with God’s sovereignty - again, it is a self-imposed limitation. (The thought process here is, simply, that if God knows and/or determines the future, then there cannot be free-will).
When it comes to prayer, I think it is deeply important to remember that there are other powers at play. We often think of it as just being a two-way (or one-way) interaction between ourselves and God. However, as theologian Walter Wink argues “What we have left out of the equation is the Principalities and Powers. Prayer is not just a two-way interaction. It also involves the great sociospiritual forces that preside over so much of reality.” (Engaging the Powers, p. 309). He goes on to say that “Prayer involves not just God and people, but God and people and the Powers. What God is able to do in the world is hindered, to a considerable extent, but the rebelliousness, resistance, and self-interest of the Powers exercising their freedom under God” (p. 311). “The Powers” that Wink is referring to in this cases would be the forces of evil at play in our world. They have been named The Satan, Demons, etc.
Thus, when we pray, we not only are interacting with God. We are interacting with the entire spiritual realm. When we pray to God for something, we are praying against the powers that are working to prevent that desire from being realized. Another theologian, Greg Boyd, calls prayer a work of spiritual warfare in his book Satan and the Problem of Evil. I believe that prayer truly is significant and that what we pray can and does change things both in the physical and spiritual realms. Thus, when we invite others into prayer, we are amplifying that power.
That’s the short and probably not super satisfactory answer.