God's Will and Free Will


Hi. This question has probably been asked before but I don't actually know what to search for. Basically it's this...

I'm pretty sure we Catholics believe that everything that happens is God's will, right? Everything happens according to His plan? So how does this work with free will? Because the idea of free will is kinda at odds with God's will, isn't it? If we choose out of our own free will to do something bad, is that still God's will, that we choose to do something bad?

Again, I'm pretty sure this has been asked before, but all I can think about is searching for 'predestination and free will' or "God's will and free will" and that's quite a hard Google search to sift through. Apologies for taking up space and I hope you can point me in the right direction.

Thanks in advance!


Not everything that happens is God's will. When someone does evil, it was not God's will. God permits things to happen that are not His will, and God will bring good from those bad situations. God has a divine plan for the world, and that plan will happen as it has been written in Scripture, and we can choose by our free will whether to be a part of eternity with God, or in Hell. Our free will does not change God's plan. And when it comes to our free will, God know exactly how we are going to use our free will throughout our lives before we ever do it.


if you would, please help me to understand further, namely, when we pray to or petition Him for specific outcomes, i.e., petitioning for another’s health, etc; can this also be petitioning Him to change His will/plan? One of the deacons gave a homily to this effect; that we can petition Him to change a perceived outcome…of course, our perceptions may be just that. It may be that our passionate petition could be what He would have done anyway, because, well, He knows us soooo well…:smiley:
it was a great and emotional homily.I am guessing it was from a personal experience.


God has a plan, but knows already that we will oppose it. Knowing this, He alone is able to bring good out of evil - otherwise no good would be accomplished on earth. As to our free will not changing God’s plan, consider: God’s plan was for the Blood of Christ to redeem all of mankind. The scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees were intended in God’s plan to have a change of heart and embrace their Savior. Yet, they opposed Christ and appealed to the Romans to put Him to death. This did not change God’s plan of redemption, but God had already allowed for this opposition to fulfill His plan. Luke 7:30 reveals that God intended those who opposed Christ to share in His salvation. Even if they did not ultimately enter into salvation, God still used them for the greater good of the new and eternal covenant. Even when we stifle God’s plan, or cause it to be prevented completely, it does not change that plan, only the implemntation of that plan.


Not everything that happens is God’s will…

Let’s start with the fall in the garden of Eden.

And praying for an outcome. We should really be praying that if it is God’s will then…

God always answers prayers, just not necessarily in the way or at the time we expect.

God bless+


of course. so what do I make of this homily of petitioning God to change His mind?
I wish homilies would be posted, as other churches do, but this one does not.:frowning:


Well we can always ask for help.

I would just quote

Matthew 6:8 “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

He knows what we need.

God bless+


[quote="FrancisBenedict, post:7, topic:328364"]
Well we can always ask for help.

I would just quote

Matthew 6:8 "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

He knows what we need.

God bless+


Oh, I understand, truly. Just wondering why such a homily from the deacon. He knows this, too, so......


Hang on. So we DON'T believe that everything that happens is God's will? Let me back up a bit and clarify this then...

We believe that God is Omniscient, so basically He knows everything. We also believe that God wills only good things for us, but gave man free will to make a choice between abiding with God's plan or choosing the wrong thing. So basically, from this viewpoint, God's will is rejected by Man? We can do that? I could have sworn I read somewhere in the Catechism that ours is not a God who takes a step back and has a "wait and see attitude" and that whatever happens is a part of God's plan. If that is in the Catechism (and I may be wrong here) then how does that work with Man's free will?

Unless of course God, being all knowing and stuff, knows in advance what Man will choose and His plan works around our bad choices and takes into account our active rejection of His will?

Thanks for all the replies thus far. Much appreciated.


This. Consider our sin: Sin is never God’s will. Yet, He permits it for the sake of our freedom - even though it opposes His plan. This is an example of how active God is in our lives. We constantly oppose Him and He constantly rearranges things so that good comes from it. He is not a passive God, but an active one right here and right now. We constantly close doors, while He constantly opens windows.


I would be understating the “Oooooooooooh” of realization that has just passed across my lips. That helps a lot in understanding. Thank you.


It truly is a paradox in a way! God has foreknowledge and knows how every detail is going to unfold, and His divine plan is going to come to fulfillment regardless of what we do. Prayer and being persistant is not insisted by Christ in order to change God’s mind but to teach us spiritual discipline to strengthen us. In the process of praying earnestly we grow closer to God and find ourselves relying less on ourselves and more on Him. This also allows us to learn what God’s will is too.

Unfortunately the Fall of Adam and Eve has left us a world that is broken, and sin and death effects us and bad things happen to good people. That is going to all change when Christ comes at the end of the world. But many times God gives us healing for the moment, but His ultimate will is that we live and die for Him now, and in return we will get to live for Him for eternity!


[quote="po18guy, post:10, topic:328364"]
We constantly close doors, while He constantly opens windows.


I Love That! :)


All praise tot he Holy Spirit!


I just received my first rosary beads today, too!!!


Then praise Him again!

I’m glad that you received illumination on the question of free will. Those in the West who fail to understand it properly often become atheists or Calvinists. It is a foundational doctrine from a philosophical perspective, and the bad results of misunderstanding it can creep up on a person.


there is a better chance for me to win the lottery twice and be struck by lightning all in the same day than to become an atheist.
Just thought I’d offer that. :smiley:

And I have understood free will. what I am trying to understand is where that places with the homily I heard. That we can petition Him to change his mind…But without the homily, I cannot really convey my question. I apologise…

Can I pm you with a question re: the rosry beads?


I have written a couple of works on the book of Jonah, and in the process I found that God sent Jonah to Nineveh to predict its destruction. But when the Ninevites heard Jonah they repented, and God changed His sentence. But what may look like a change in God’s mind, it still is not the same as how we would change our mind. We can be surprised by an action and change our minds, but God already knows what is going to happen before the world was created. This is just one of those mysteries that we can just realize that God’s ways are not like our ways!


Anyone is free to ask me anything. I might even know what I’m talking about!


Yes, that’s what makes sin possible. Otherwise God would be the author of evil, making Him worse than satan. God values our freedom so much that He allows its abuse, determining to bring an even greater good out of the evil that results.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.