I understand that God’s mind is not changed by our prayers and/or actions, but in today’s First Reading where Jonah preaching to the town to repent, it says at the end: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” I can see how the warning and their prayers changed them from their evil ways which is what God wanted to happen, but to say he “repented” to me implies a change of heard. Can someone explain that to me?
God’s mind is not changed through prayer. I like to think that rather, our will and minds are changed through prayer. God was going to destroy them, but since they oriented their will and prayers along with his will, they avoided the coming disaster.
Well, repented is an English word that conveys a certain understanding for us today that the word used in the original language may not have conveyed. After all, God is not a human being; any language we use regarding God at all is going to be insufficient to convey what God fully means; we just aren’t capable of understanding it.
For the people reading about Jonah, their understanding of God turning aside from a planned punishment would have been taken as, “when we do something wrong, and we know we deserve God’s punishment, at least show Him how sorry we are, and pray that He accept our repenting.” Using a word translating to English ‘repenting’ is giving us an idea that God understands repentance and that God will hear and perhaps grant our request for forgiveness if it is sincere and whole-hearted.
Also, why does it say that God was about to cause evils? I thought God can’t cause evil!
Our prayers don’t change God, but they are accounted for in his eternal will.
Thank you for your explanation. I would love for you to expand on it when time allows.
Yes, that’s confusing too. But I can see how it could be interpreted by the writer as short-hand for punishment, but that is an interesting question.
God loves His children and He wants the best for them. He also sees the heart, mind and soul of His children and it’s His choice how to act on that.
Let’s say I make the following plan: “I’m going to get pizza for dinner. Unless the pizza place is closed in which case I will get a burger.” If the pizza place is closed and I get a burger, did I change my mind?
If God made the plan “As long as Adam and Eve don’t eat the fruit, I’m going to do X,* if they do I’ll start setting up for the Passion,” did Adam and Eve change his mind?
*Since we have no idea what he would have done if they hadn’t eaten the fruit I have to leave this one undefined.
There is God’s Sovereign Will and His Permissive Will, both are
permitted by his Grace, otherwise we will be Robots, doing His
every bidding as a command. Jesus experienced this dramatically
in the Garden of Gathsemane, when He prayed, “Father, not my
will(God’s Permissive Will) but Thine (God’s Sovereign Will) be
done!!” God DIDN’T change His Sovereign Will, but He provided
an easier way out of Jesus’ predicament, obviously He might
have to sift the JEWISH NATION as wheat to save the world!!