Mark Galli & James S. Bell, Jr., “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Prayer”

I enjoyed this book:  As you’d expect from the title,  there’s nothing profound, but there’s still plenty of good material, and the format of the “Idiot’s Guide” series is very reader-friendly.  The author seems sound enough; the only off-note is his obsession with not offending women by the use of masculine pronouns.  (The author is mostly Galli, by the way; Bell just did the sidebars, etc.). Here’s the most interesting passage:

God will not change his mind about some things, no matter how hard we pray.  If we ask God, “Help me rob this bank,” or “I’d like you to give me strength to kill my boss,” he’s not going to do it.  He’s never going to change his mind about things like that.

There are other things God is going to do whether we pray or not.  No need to pray, “Lord, I pray the sun will rise tomorrow morning,” or “Lord, I really hope gravity keeps working all day.”

But apparently there are things that God doesn’t have a definite plan about, and these things he leaves open-ended.  He’ll do them if we pray for them; he won’t do them if we don’t pray.  It’s not so much a matter of changing his eternal, wise plan — it’s actually part of his eternal, wise plan that we get to decide some stuff.

Here’s how Presbyterian theologian Donald Bloesch put it:  “God’s ultimate will is unchanging,, but the way in which he chooses to realize his will is dependent on the prayers of his children.  He wants us as covenant partners, not as automons or slaves.”