I saw this line on a social media site today, “God changes the hearts of people. Prayer changes the heart of God.” It’s a nice sentiment, for blasphemy. Does prayer really change the heart of God? See what His word says:
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19
“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change—he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.” Psalm 55:19
“God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” Hebrews 7:21b
If the author of that sentiment had left it simply at ‘God changes the hearts of people’ I would have said “Amen!” and moved on. But he didn’t. He added that second sentence and inspired this blog.
It’s undeniable that God changes the hearts of people. He is the Life-Giver of our hearts. Anyone who has a relationship with God must testify that God has changed their heart. He is the only one who is able. Argue as we may with others, but, ultimately, our words will fall on deaf ears if God Himself does not move their hearts to respond.
It is an absolutely classic, egotistical human error to believe that we have any control whatsoever on God’s heart by our prayers. It implies that we have power and that God’s heart is in need of change. God loves us and, with our limited understanding of love, we tend to believe that when someone loves us, we hold a certain manipulative power over them. By playing the ‘don’t you love me?’ card, we can get someone to do things for us that they are not otherwise inclined to do. To hold that view of God’s love is a dangerous misunderstanding. God’s love for us is not human love. His love means that His heart is unchangeably set on doing what is best for us, even when we don’t understand His ways. God is for us! Prayer is not going to make Him more or less for us. The height, breadth and depth of His love are already past our limits of understanding. We cannot ask for more love from Him because more love does not exist. He is all of love.
Granted, our sentimental author-friend was probably on the right track, but with the wrong word choice. While we cannot affect change in the heart of God, scripture does say that God’s heart is stirred when His children come to Him. As any parent can attest, when our children are eager to talk to us, it stirs the love in our hearts.
Prayer brings about an intimacy with God and a deeper understanding of His love for us. Prayer is the gift that He has given us to communicate with Him. He didn’t give us the ability to pray for His sake, He gave it for our sake because our souls need communication with our Creator. C.S. Lewis said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” When we talk to our heavenly Father, it doesn’t change His heart, it is a manner in which He changes our hearts.
We should praise God all the more because His heart is unchangeable. His love for us is not merit-based. His mercy is not dependent on our deserts. He is perfect and good and that will never change. Thank God!
This blog was written by Hannah Foti, the Marketing Coordinator at Christian Care Ministry. Hannah is 26, a pastor’s kid, photographer, Florida Gator & Philadelphia Eagles fan and a very happy new wife.