Predestination and prayer

Those of us who are saved were chosen for salvation before the world was even created.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Since God has already decided who will be saved and who won’t there is no point in praying for the salvation of another person.  If he has been predestined for salvation he will be saved; if he hasn’t been predestined he won’t be.  Our prayers will have no effect.  This seems like an unanswerable argument against praying that someone be saved.  But Paul, the author of the above quote, wasn’t persuaded by it.  He prayed for the salvation of his fellow Israelites.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  (Romans 10:1-3)

Why would Paul pray for their salvation if God had already determined whether they would be saved?  He understood that God doesn’t experience time the same way we do.  We only experience one point in time.  Some events are in the past and we can do nothing to change them.  Some are in the future and the choices we make now can affect them.  God doesn’t experience time this way.  To him the past, present, and future are all the same.  One of his attributes is omnipresence.  His omnipresence is temporal as well as spatial.  He not only exists everywhere at the same time, he also occupies all of time.

The things we do can only affect the future.  Our prayers can affect the past.  If you know people who are unsaved, pray for them.  God can answer the prayer you make now by selecting that person to be saved before the creation of the world.

Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.  (Isaiah 65:24)

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Posted on January 14, 2019, in Bible study, prayer, salvation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. This was great Clyde.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s as logical an explanation as any.

    Time travel stories always bother me. The plot twists can get awfully convoluted. This explanation of prayer in spite of predestination poses similar issues, but nothing is simple about God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with what you say about time travel stories, but I enjoy reading them anyway. This post isn’t about time travel or about changing the past in any way. If anyone finds this confusing it is easy to pray without thinking about this issue at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I always understood that to mean that all humans are predestined to be save but only our God knows who will refuse the salvation. Jesus said “Who so ever” Our’s is not to judge but to give the word and let our God finish the work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was well done, Clyde. It’s a tricky subject to tackle.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully expressed and, as always, biblically grounded. Thank you, Clyde.

    Like

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