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Prayer is one of the main reasons people walk away from God in disgust and frustration. What is prayer? How does it work? Why do we pray?

God's will and terminal disease

Postby Bad Throw » Tue Oct 02, 2018 3:10 pm

Why do people request prayers from Christians for someone who is dying of a terminal disease, when most Christians believe that everything that happens to you is God's will?

I will start off by acknowledging that I know that different Christian denominations - and the individuals who subscribe to these denominations - view things somewhat differently. I'm making a generalization based on what I have witnessed and been told by Christians throughout my life.

My mother has terminal cancer. It's everywhere in her body, and the doctors have said there is no treatment they could provide that would help her at this point. We don't know how long she has had it, but up until a month or so ago, she was feeling great and had no idea that anything was amiss.

My brother is optimistic that, as long as she is still alive, there is hope for her recovery and is asking for prayers. I am accepting the situation as it is, and while I am not rejecting prayers, I don't see the point in asking for them. Here is my reasoning....

1. If there is a God, then perhaps this was His/Her will, at least according to the Christians I've known throughout my life. He wanted this to happen to her, and praying for her recovery is not only futile, but actually flies in the face of His wisdom, and is in fact doubting His judgment - something that I can't imagine any Christian wanting to do, under any circumstances.

2. Let's imagine for a minute that this is NOT His will.... that it somehow "just happened" without any triggering from a divine power... why would any deity listen to the prayers of a bunch of people who are praying for someone, and pick that person specifically? they don't even know my mother.

3. Let's further state that a bunch of people who don't know my mother could actually get together and pray for her recovery - if this were really possible, wouldn't we be seeing much, much fewer cases of cancer and other terminal diseases, and a lot more miracle recoveries? There's a lot of prayers being thrown around here - or, at least, people are saying that the are praying - but it never really seems to make any difference in most cases. I've known a lot of people who have died from terminal diseases and other causes, and a lot of people prayed for them... but it had no affect. People are still dying unexpectedly, and under miserable circumstances, no matter how hard we pray for them.

4. If terminal disease is God's will, but inevitable death isn't necessarily in the cards (depending on how hard everyone prays).... why? Why would a deity even make terminal disease a "thing"? Why must it exist? Is said deity forcing people to be called to action via prayer, only to have their hopes dashed and their souls crushed if their prayers don't help?

I'm not necessarily knocking prayer... if it makes someone feel better to do it, I won't discourage it. I just don't see the point, and every time I read a post on Facebook that says "this is God's will" and then in the same post, they say they will pray for them... it takes everything in my willpower to not respond with "if you really believe this is God's will, why are you praying for their recovery? Isn't that an insult to your God's judgment? If you believe this is God's will, why are you trying to change the outcome?"
Bad Throw

Re: God's will and terminal disease

Postby jimwalton » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:48 pm

I'm so sorry for your pain and the emotional agony of times like these, but we as Christians don't believe everything that happens is God's will. It is never God's will that we sin (lie, cheat, steal, etc.), but people do it. People get sick for many reasons, the most common of which is that biology + viruses = sickness. Every time someone gets sick, we would never say God made him/her sick or that it's God's will that he/she is sick.

We also know that this life isn't supposed to be forever. Everyone dies. It's unfair to say—every time someone dies—that God caused it. That's just not true. We all die, and many of us of natural causes, because life is only so long.

The Bible portrays prayer as effective, but we aren't the bosses and God our slave. He retains the title CEO to make the final call. So saying, God's will doesn't always prevail. He genuinely allows us to participate in how life will play itself out. We have free will, and God sometimes directs our lives, and sometimes flows with our decisions. At other times he lets biology and cause-and-effect take its course. Let me share a few examples.

Genesis 18.16-33. God is responding to Abraham's requests.

Genesis 19.16-22. The angel of the Lord directed Lot and his daughters to the mountains. They instead requested to settle in Zoar, which the Lord allowed. Settling in Zoar was not God's will for them. This turned out to be to their detriment, but God honored their request.

Exodus 32.11-14. Moses interceded for the Israelites, and the Lord responded to Moses's pleas.

God didn't want Israel to have a king (1 Samuel 8), but gave in to their requests. This was to their detriment, caused decades of problems, and led the nation into spiritual demise.

Jeremiah 18.1-12. The Lord responds to people's responses, and makes changes accordingly.

There are many more examples, but these will suffice. Prayer can be effective, but God is da boss. It's simply not true that "everything that happens is God's will."

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