I have noticed that many Christians/catholics both pray for things that surely contradict thr free will of others.
So how would god answer these kind of prayers?
-Please keep my parents from divorcing.
-Please help my father with his addiction (fill in)
-Please keep my family safe from enemies.
-Please help cure (someone’s) disease
So will god not answer these prayers or will he mess with free will?
God will not interfere with free will. This is undoubtedly why so many of these kinds of prayers seem to go unanswered. But it’s not always necessary for God to interfere with free will to answer these prayers.
God could use inner promptings or external experiences to invite people into a deeper self-sacrificing love or to spiritual healing . These don’t interfere with free will, but could lead to any of these prayers being answered. Healing someone from a disease doesn’t interfere with free will at all.
Most importantly, when we pray we don’t manipulate God either. We pray to unite our will to God’s. If He is going to answer our prayer, He is going to do it His way. Our prayer is just a participation in His goodness. God may answer our prayer by sending inner promptings to invite divorcing parents to deeper love. Our prayer is part of that. But God will still allow the parents to accept or reject (or completely ignore) those inner promptings out of respect for their free will. Or God may have a greater good that comes out of someone’s disease that He wants that person to be open to. He may not cure someone’s disease despite our prayer. But our prayer is still part of the good that he offers our loved one. And our prayer is still an act of love for God and for the person for whom we pray.
God attracts us to do His will, but He will not deprive us of free-will.
This analogy might help:
Hot air rises. Similarly, a soul touched by the fire of Divine Love will ascend towards God (Who is a ‘consuming fire’), thereby burning away the dross of sinfulness and self-will.
Sometimes, in answer to our prayers - especially the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass -God grants us or those we pray for, a great grace, which can be likened to a flame that attracts us with its warmth. Our souls need light and warmth. The will is nourished by love - it was created for love; the intellect needs truth - it was created for truth. And God is both Truth and Love!
God is answering your “desires”, not your description of the solution to your desires. For instance, if I pray to win the lottery, my actual desire is that I am afraid of all the uncertainties of the future and desire my “daily bread without anxiety”. So he provides my job programming, and a 401K plan, etc., for me (not the same for all), so that I will be without anxiety as I do witness to his goodness all the days until he takes me home.
“parents from divorcing” - this is a desire for security, and for the eternal blessedness of your parents as well as for you. As each of the three of you are spoken to by him, through the Gospel of the Church, and by inspiration of his Spirit of Truth, you are each “wooed” into loving this God, and his promises, and his desires, his Will. And what is happening is that he is being “revealed” to you, awakening a recognition of Him, a desire to be one with Him, a love for Him, and, the recognition that being one with Him is possible, because it is “easy”, easy as “come, follow me”. You will answer that call yourself, and take a step to follow him, or one of your parents will take that step. Each of you will see the others following as a witness of Him. And each will take the step individually. This may or may not result in the marriage being “saved”, but your real desire will be satisfied, and is satisfied, because God is providing your actual desire, yet in a way ignoring a humanly invented solution to your desire.
If it has to be “your defined solution”, rarely will it be answered.
Now, you list your “religion” as “None currently” - so I wish you to know that the Catholic Church is what Jesus promised when he identified Peter as the Kingdom’s holder of the Keys of the Kingdom, promising that the Holy Spirit would show them and keep them in truth, and told him and the other apostles that if anyone believes their word he is believing Jesus, if anyone is baptized by them he is granted citizenship in the Kingdom. Come, and follow Jesus as one of his disciples, one of his People, one of his Church.
Forty years is a long time to soften one person’s heart. As a matter of fact, my old pastor used to wonder where Augustine was, saying “He fooled around with those women for a long time!”
But the point is that God could hardly have interfered with “free will” in that case, if it took 40 years for Augustine to get serious.
He may have put suggestions or images or some sort of spiritual sense into Augustine’s mind.
When I became a Christian for example, I was at the tail end of what was to be the most disastrous four years of my life. In this existential vacuum, I started getting this sort of spiritual push to attend a church where I’d had a bit of Sunday School when I was younger. In doing so I met “my old pastor” (quoted above) and his family, a number of other personable young Christians, and my Christian walk went on from there.
Now there was a definite “spiritual push”, with hints of the old church becoming somewhat insistent in my mind.
But I still had to make a decision to go. I could have refused. Had I done so, I don’t know if God would have become more insistent, or given up after a while.
So I still had “free will”. But the “free will” was really just a choice of “yes” or “no” to this sort of prompting. I didn’t just decide to go the old church because it was a rainy day and I had nothing better to do.
Now whether somebody was praying or not I don’t know. But there was a definite spiritual push.