How much does God interfere with our lives?


#1

How much does the Church say that God directly interferes with our lives? (Or, indeed, the devil?)

If you pray for something to happen, and it happens, does that make it God’s ‘fault’ (in the positive sense)? If you are fairly sure that the thing which you prayed for would have happened anyway, should you still ascribe the thing’s happening to God?

If you sin, does God punish you on Earth, or cause things to happen which will reform you?


#2

I would answer yes to pretty much all of the above. Put it this way: according to the idea of God’s causal omnipresence, our entire existence from its beginning is indirectly due to God’s “interference,” if you want to put it that way. Our ongoing lives are due to God’s ongoing causal relationship to us.

So why pray about things, if our lives are in God’s hands anyway? Well, if God sees all of our lives in one eternal instant, He also sees all our prayers. In his causation of our lives, couldn’t He take into consideration the prayers we haven’t even prayed yet? And if we in fact do not pray, God already sees that as well, and it is as well taken into consideration.

Example: my wife and I once needed a certain amount of money, and we prayed for it. The next day, the exact amount we prayed for arrived in the mail (it was an unexpected state tax adjustment we didn’t even know about). Now think about it: the check had to have been mailed before we prayed, in order to get to us the next day. In one sense, I could say there couldn’t be a causal relationship there, from my linear-time perspective. However, there COULD be a causal relationship there, given that God saw our prayers and saw the answer simultaneously. The arrangement of prayer / answer is just given to us, I think, to strengthen our faith.

This is all sort of speculation on my part; however, C.S. Lewis thought the same thing. (Appeal to authority, I know.) :slight_smile:

As for sin, that’s also complicated. But some sins tend to carry their own punishment with them, given natural-law factors. Gluttony, for example, and others I’m too politically correct to mention.


#3

Yes, but does God directly punish us here on earth? Silly example, but if one were to sin and then have an accident, could you draw a causal link? Would to do so be dangerous?


#4

I’d never say GOD interferes…HE controls it! I interfere when I bring my own thinking into my life for HIM.


#5

Possibly, but I don’t think so. There are enough natural consequences to get our attention.

Silly example, but if one were to sin and then have an accident, could you draw a causal link?

No. Please read the story of Job.

Would to do so be dangerous?

Yes, if you were to judge someone as a result.


#6

katholicos,

The loss of grace being the immediate effect of mortal sin necessarily involves eternal separation from God, should the sinner die unrepentant. But it is essential to keep well in the foreground the idea of punishment as a penalty exacted and inflicted by God in vindication of the moral order which has been violated. Grace is a free gift from God, and, if a soul is deprived of it, the consequences of that deprival is a punishment inflicted by the author of grace.

Tomster


#7

I like to look at it as I interfere with God’s plan for me. I am the one who makes the mistakes of bad judgement, I am the one who lets fear and insecurities keep me from what God wants for me… That pesky free will to make mistakes…


#8

God’s omnipotence is self limited by His gift of free will. Thus, He never “interferes” if that would violate our free will. So, we can’t blame Him for our sin, but He does allow circumstances to unfold and we make choices that result in our final existence (heaven or hell). He does not punish us, but we can have a bad outcome due to circumstances that are the result of our choosing.

Also, our perception of “punishment” (i.e. - bad things happening) is flawed. Sometimes suffering, which is almost universally viewed by the world as bad, is an incredible blessing when it causes us to draw closer to God.

It’s a great mystery that God is omniscient and omnipotent and yet He gives us free will and does not “pre-destine” our final outcome. It’s impossible to fully understand this mystery. We just have to have faith that God does not violate our free will and yet He will answer our prayers in a way that is ordered to our ultimate good if we sincerely pray for His will. I see sincere prayer as more of a uniting ourselves to the Will of God and accepting His will rather than asking Him to change things to conform to our desires. Thus, as one matures in a relationship with God, that person’s prayers are in union with God’s will and, thus, his prayers are always answered.


#9

Thanks Jim - your answer is what I was looking for, I think. Though, in reference to your last point, does that mean that anyone who prays for something that is not in union with God’s will won’t get it? (And, on the flip side, isn’t praying in union with God’s will pointless because if it’s God’s will then it’s going to happen anyway?)


#10

Given that God’s will is ordered toward what is best for all of us, I don’t believe He grants petitions that are contrary to His will. The highest form of prayer is entering into relationship with God, not simply asking for stuff, so the purpose of prayer is to grow closer to Him. The more we pray in a spirit of acceptance of His will, the closer we grow in relationship. So, this kind of prayer is incredibly beneficial because it prepares us for our ultimate union with God in heaven.


#11

You haven’t answered my second question :slight_smile: (I agree about the purpose of prayer, but considering only the petitionary aspect…)

And also, what is the nature of those petitions he does grant? Are they only changes within the mind of the maker? Surely if he changed someone else because of another’s prayer then we can’t be sure that anything we do isn’t the result of someone else’s praying?


#12

Well, I think the purpose is integral; however, if you were to look strictly at the petitionary aspect, I would still have to say no, it isn’t pointless. Once again, we have free will that God will not violate. So, God might want to do something in our life or give us something (His perfect will), but if we don’t ask for it and express a desire for it, He won’t force it on us (His permissive will).


#13

Thanks. Could you point me to some (Catholic) information on this? I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking and reading about free will, and I’ve never come across ‘perfect’ and ‘permissive’ before…


#14

I’m going to have to do some searching and I have to go offline right now. I’ll try to get you something this weekend.

Blessings


#15

Thanks.


#16

Wrong question.

Our lives are never free of God - they are far more truly His, than ours, for He has created them. God does not intervene or interfere: that implies that God is an outsider, barging in on what belongs to us. Which is a severe distortion.

If you pray for something to happen, and it happens, does that make it God’s ‘fault’ (in the positive sense)?

That implies blame - but how can it make sense to say God is blameworthy for anything ?

Is God responsible for that thing ? It is perhaps better to say God is Sovereign; over & in & through all contingencies, & all created effects. God is not “responsible”, if by responsible is meant “answerable”, as that implies that He would be responsible to another.

If you are fairly sure that the thing which you prayed for would have happened anyway, should you still ascribe the thing’s happening to God?

Of course - nothing can happen that is not within the universal Providence & Sovereignty of God. No created cause can be or function, if God Who transcends & exceeds all causes has not so ordained. Not a hair could fall from our heads, & God not know of it. Nothing whatever is outside it. Which is why we can & should have absolutely unbounded confidence in God.

If you sin, does God punish you on Earth, or cause things to happen which will reform you?

That depends on God. :slight_smile:


#17

Doesn’t the church say that God, through his devine providence, He “intercedes” in our lives.
Conversely, if you pray for something to happen and it doesn’t happen is that God’s “fault” also or is He just not answering your prayer. And if He does not answer your prayer, assuming it’s a valid, reasonable prayer and follows all of the applicable church teachings, what becomes of the Bible teaching on prayer: Ask and you shall receive, ect.?


closed #18

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