One of the conclusions in our article entitled “Is God Really Omnipotent and Omniscient?” is that God knows everything that will occur in the future (i.e., He is omniscient). [Note: To read that article, click on its title.] And, because God is omniscient, He knows the outcome of every situation, even before the situation arises.
But, if God already knows everything that will occur in the future, including the outcome of every situation, why bother to ask Him for His help in dealing with important matters, since the outcomes cannot be changed from what God already knows?
The answer to this question is that if people do pray sincerely for God’s help, the Bible indicates that He can be expected to respond favorably to such prayers in matters in which He would not otherwise have intervened. Conversely, if people do not pray for God’s help with such matters, they should not expect God to intervene, although He may do so anyway.
God knows in advance whether or not people will pray about a matter of concern to them and what His response will be. Therefore, there is no need for God to change His mind about what the outcome of any matter will be. [Note: Our article entitled “Does God Ever Change His Mind?” addresses whether or not God changes His mind. To read that article, click on its title.]
A significant consideration regarding the answer to the primary question posed by this article is that the Bible encourages people to pray to God for His help. If there would be no benefit from praying to God for help in dealing with certain matters, because He already knows the outcome of every matter, then surely the Bible would not encourage people to pray to God for His help. The following are several scriptures that encourage people to pray:
Matthew 21:22: [Jesus Christ declares] “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Mark 11:24: [Jesus Christ states] “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
John 15:7: [Jesus Christ asserts] “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
1 John 3:21-22: [John, one of the 12 disciples in the inner circle of Jesus Christ’s followers, writes] “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.”
1 John 5:14-15: [John subsequently writes] “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
James 4:2b: [James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, writes] “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
James 5:15: [James later writes] “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
The foregoing scriptures indicate that God does answer prayers. It should be noted, however, that several of these scriptures imply that certain conditions must be met before God will respond to prayer requests for His help. And, other scriptures in the Bible indicate that there are additional conditions that must be met for prayers to be answered favorably. [Note: Click on “How to Pray Effectively” for a discussion of the conditions that must be met.]
If the conditions necessary for God to answer prayers are met, there is valid reason to believe that God will respond favorably to prayer requests that are in accord with His will. However, God’s response will not necessarily be what the person(s) who prayed requested, because God will respond as He knows will ultimately be best.
Because God is omniscient, He knows in advance what the outcome will be with regard to every matter, including whether or not people will pray for His help in dealing with any particular matter. And, if people do what is necessary to pray effectively for God’s help in dealing with a matter, God will help them, although not necessarily as they request. Therefore, even though God already knows the ultimate outcome of every matter, it is beneficial to pray to Him for His help.