Chapter 5 – God, Faith, and the Practice of Prayer

This final chapter focuses on the value and importance of prayer. This is another area in which God gives us responsibility. For many of us with an activist mindset, prayer can often be neglected, so it is pertinent that Fretheim reminds us of its importance. The basic point that Fretheim makes with regard to prayer is that it “is a means in and through which God gets things done in the world.” It is a way of giving us power, but at the same time it is not a “substitute for action.” Many of us have an idea that using prayer as a substitute for using the gifts that God has given us is acting in faith. Therefore, many people will not see a doctor because they would rather pray, and then they are surprised when they do not get healed. Such an attitude, explains Fretheim, far from being an act of faith, is actually an act of faithlessness, for it fails to recognise once again the relational character of God. As Fretheim points out from 2 Kings 20:1-7, prayers and actions can work together.

What this chapter also reveals is that God is open to changing the divine mind. Such is the loving character of God that,

“God is open to taking new directions in view of new times and places; God is open to changing course in view of the interaction within the relationship, including prayers. Yet, never changing will be God’s steadfast love for all, God’s saving will for everyone, and God’s faithfulness to promises made.”

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