Post Author: Bill Pratt
The Bible teaches, and theology argues, that God cannot change. This is called divine immutability. But if God cannot change, then why do we pray to him? After all, when we pray, aren’t we trying to change God’s mind?
Norm Geisler answers this question in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation. Listen to what he says:
God is omniscient . . . , and an all-knowing Being cannot change His mind. If He does, He is not really all-knowing. Therefore, God cannot change His mind in answer to prayer.
When we pray (or have prayed), God not only knew what we were going to pray, but He ordained our prayer as a means of accomplishing His purpose. Prayer is not a means by which we change God; it is a means by which God changes us.
Prayer is not a means of our overcoming God’s reluctance; it is a way for God to take hold of our willingness. Prayer is not a means of getting our will done in heaven, but a means of God getting His will done on earth.
If you think about it for a minute, we don’t want to change God’s mind anyway. After all, who knows what is best? Us or God? Geisler reminds us of why we should rejoice in the fact that God is immutable:
Since God is unchangeable, we can trust His Word: “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19).
Also, we can trust God’s promises completely: “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Ps. 102:25–27).
Further, we can be sure of our salvation, because “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). What is more, God’s immutability provides an anchor for our souls: “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged” (Heb. 6:17–18).
Finally, we have a stable foundation for service. Paul wrote, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
God is unchanging and we can all give praise for that. I don’t know about you, but I would have a hard time worshiping a God whose mind I could change.