The Openness of God: Does Prayer Change God?

William Barrick | May 18, 2010

A proper understanding of two OT prayers, one by Hezekiah and one by Moses, helps in determining whether prayer is the means by which God gets his will done on earth or the means by which the believer’s will is accomplished in heaven. A chronological arrangement of the three records of Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and Isaiah reveals the arrogance of Hezekiah in his plea for God to heal him. Because Hezekiah missed the opportunity to repent of his self-centered attitude, God revealed that his descendants would become slaves in Babylon, but Hezekiah’s arrogance kept him from being concerned about his children and grandchildren. His pride further showed itself in his inability to trust God for defense against the Assyrians. God healed Hezekiah, not so much because of his prayer, but because of the promises God had made to Hezekiah’s ancestors about sustaining the Davidic line of kings. Hezekiah’s prayer changed Hezekiah, not God. Moses’ prayer in Exodus 32 sought a change from God’s expressed intention of putting an end to Israel and starting over again with just Moses. This suggestion was not something the Lord ever intended to occur; such a course would have voided His expressed purpose for the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49). God did not change His mind regarding His plan for the twelve tribes; He rather altered the timing in order to keep His promises to them. What He did in response to Moses’ prayer cannot be taken as normative action. His “change of mind” was a tool to elicit a change of response in Moses. Moses’ prayer changed Moses, not God.

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William Barrick Faculty Associate, Old Testament B.A., Denver Baptist Bible College M.Div., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.M., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.D., Grace Theological Seminary Before joining The Master's Seminary faculty in 1997, Dr. Barrick served with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). In 1981 he and his family moved to Bangladesh. In that ministry Dr. Barrick served as the Exegetical Consultant for Bible translation projects, theological consultant for the Literature Division, and adjunct faculty member of the Baptist Bible Institute of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Theological Seminary, and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary Extension Program (Singapore). Prior to joining ABWE in 1979, Dr. Barrick had been Professor and Chairman of the Old Testament Department at Denver Baptist Theological Seminary from 1972 to 1978. Beyond his teaching and Bible translation work, Dr. Barrick has been active in a variety of ministries including three years as Director of Church Planting in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He has also had a varied writing ministry from scholarly journals to adult Sunday School materials. Dr. Barrick has been writing in the areas of Bible and theology for forty years. His writings range from adult Sunday school materials, in-house library publications, and newspaper editorials to technical journal articles in English and a commentary on the book of Daniel in Bengali. In addition, as a result of his fifteen years of Bible translation ministry in Bangladesh, he has participated in the production of Bibles, New Testaments, and Bible sections in six different languages. While in Bangladesh he participated in the editing of over twenty books and tracts, including a Bengali translation of Unger's Bible Handbook. During his doctoral studies he worked as a phototypesetter and proofreader for the first fascicle of The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and a number of other major volumes. Dr. Barrick has been involved in writing or contributing to 26 books, and has authored over 125 periodical articles and book reviews. Currently he is the OT editor for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Logos) and will be writing the Genesis commentary in that series. He has also contributed the essay, “A Historical Adam, Young-Earth Creation View” in the recently released book Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan, 2013). Dr. Barrick has been married to his wife Barbara for 48 years. They have four married children and fourteen grandchildren. He is currently Faculty Associate and Director of Th.D. Studies at The Master's Seminary.

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