If you haven’t yet visited Greb Boyd’s new sight www.reknew.org you ought to do it. Boyd tends to push the envelope on areas of difficult Christian thought where others have sort of acquiesced to either mystery or humanity’s finite perspective. While I do not agree with all of his positions I am always challenged to “re-think” my previous ideas–hence the name of his website. In particular Boyd has challenged me to shed the view that God is an unmovable rock of unemotional cosmic granite whose mind cannot be impacted, affected, moved or changed through the prayers of his faithful co-laborers upon the earth. Boyd’s central point is that God has sovereignly chosen to bind himself and the outworking of his will in the affairs of men to the prayers of his people–or lack there-of if that be the case. He likens the dynamics of God’s will to a trust-fund that simply needs a co-signer to be released.
However as in most things that Boyd writes, it is best to hear it from his own hand:
READER QUESTION: You’ve argued that since God is all-good, he’s always doing the most he can do in every situation to bring about good. But you have also argued that prayer can change God’s mind. How are these two beliefs compatible?
GREG BOYD: The beliefs aren’t incompatible if you believe, as I do, that God wants humans to have significant “say-so” in affecting what comes to pass. As such he created a world in which we have “say-so” on a physical level, making decisions that affect what comes to pass through our physical activity. We also have “say-so” on a spiritual level, affecting what comes to pass through prayer. By God’s own sovereign will, he bound himself to be affected by whether or not humans engage with him in prayer.
Hence, there are things that God would like to happen that won’t happen unless his people pray. In Scripture, there are times God plans on going in one direction, but hopes that his people will intercede to change that direction. For example, he told Ezekiel he planned on bringing judgment on Israel but tried to find someone to “stand in the gap on behalf of the land so [he] would not have to destroy it.” Unfortunately, he says, “I found no one” (Ezek. 22:30). Many other times, however, God allows his plans to change in response to his people talking to him (e.g. Ex. 32:14). I imagine it like a reservoir of divine power that won’t – can’t—be released unless his people agree with him about releasing it, or like a trust fund that requires a co-signer to be released. What God’s people do and don’t do really matters.