Praying and free will


#1

This is something I have thought about a lot in the past and it really bothers me at times…

What is the use of praying for someone’s conversion? Everyone has to come from God of their own free will. Sure God can maybe urge them on or place people in their path that help them along… but the conversion has to come from within.

So, how can my prayers turn someone around? It has to come from within them. I was reading the lyrics to the hymn “Faith of our Fathers” and one line said:

“. Faith of our fathers! Mary’s prayers
Shall win England back unto Thee”

How can this be? If Mary prays extra hard for us, we will be forced to convert? I cannot see how any amount of her praying or us praying can turn someone around. That would take their free will from them, it has to come from within them.

Please someone help me understand this.


#2

[quote=James_2:24]So, how can my prayers turn someone around?
[/quote]

Only by God’s grace can we do good. Without the grace of God, any one of us could easily be the worst sinner. The only thing we can do on our own is turn away from God. All good that we do comes from God. Conversion is an act of The Holy Spirit. The gift of faith is a gift from God. Pray for this gift for your friends you wish to convert.

Some links:
newadvent.org/cathen/06689a.htm
newadvent.org/cathen/04347a.htm
newadvent.org/cathen/06553a.htm


#3

We don’t pray against a person’s free will. We pray to God to set the person free from whatever is holding that person in bondage to sin. With prayer, we can tear down strongholds.
For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
2Cor 10:4

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:12


#4

[quote=Matt16_18]We don’t pray against a person’s free will. We pray to God to set the person free from whatever is holding that person in bondage to sin. With prayer, we can tear down strongholds.
For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
2Cor 10:4

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:12
[/quote]

Understood, that said, it has to be the person’s choice to break free some sin, they must respond to God’s grace… So asking God to go in and strong-arm the person into stoppign their sinful ways and turning to him would destroy free will. It seems one cannot even pray that they break their sinful ways, because that would entail God making them break their ways if he should answer that prayer. They must turn themselves from sin…

God Bless.


#5

Of course. But we are born in bondage to sin, and God has to give us healing grace before we can ever use our free will to respond to God’s call to conversion. There is nothing wrong with praying for God to send healing grace to a person in need of that grace. Indeed, Jesus teaches that we should pray to be delivered from evil.
**Catechism of the Catholic Church

2001** The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, “since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:”[indent]
Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.[/indent]

So asking God to go in and strong-arm the person into stoppign their sinful ways and turning to him would destroy free will.

God does not ever violate our free will, and Catholics don’t pray for God to do what he would never do. Catholics are also not Calvinists.

The Calvinists believe that God arbitrarily forces irresistible grace upon a select few unwilling and totally depraved men and women, and these depraved men and women are forced by irresistible grace to become holy and righteous beings (the elect).

If you want to argue against the false doctrine of irresistible grace, then you have an argument with Calvinists, not Catholics.


#6

[quote=Matt16_18]Of course. But we are born in bondage to sin, and God has to give us healing grace before we can ever use our free will to respond to God’s call to conversion. There is nothing wrong with praying for God to send healing grace to a person in need of that grace. Indeed, Jesus teaches that we should pray to be delivered from evil.
**Catechism of the Catholic Church

2001** The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, “since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:”[indent]
Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.[/indent]God does not ever violate our free will, and Catholics don’t pray for God to do what he would never do. Catholics are also not Calvinists.

The Calvinists believe that God arbitrarily forces irresistible grace upon a select few unwilling and totally depraved men and women, and these depraved men and women are forced by irresistible grace to become holy and righteous beings (the elect).

If you want to argue against the false doctrine of irresistible grace, then you have an argument with Calvinists, not Catholics.
[/quote]

Thanks for sticking with me on this… So, this prayer I assume would be futile, correct? :

“Please break my sister’s closed-mindedness so that she can see the truth”

This would mean that God would have to change her attitude and disposition, which would mean he would force her hand. Rather, she needs ot make the change?

Also, what about the words that i posted in my first post, “Faith of our fathers”. It says Mary’s prayers will bring England back to God… How so? It must happen in the heart of the individuals.
Mary can pray for God to send them grace, but the invdividuals must respond to that grace. In the end it is their decision to come back to God or not…

Sorry, I’m still trying to understand this… I hear people say, “I prayed and prayed that my mother would come back to the church and after years of praying she’s come back!” As if there prayers MADE their mother come back, or MADE God force himself on her… this would be a violation of free-will. how can such a prayer be effectacious?


#7

[quote=James_2:24]Thanks for sticking with me on this… So, this prayer I assume would be futile, correct? :

“Please break my sister’s closed-mindedness so that she can see the truth”

This would mean that God would have to change her attitude and disposition, which would mean he would force her hand.
[/quote]

What makes you think that your sister’s close-mindedness is caused because she has freely chosen to be closed minded? Can you read her heart? Is it not possible that she may be simply ignorant of the truth, or that there is some sort of demonic bondage that keeps her oppressed?

It is a mortal sin for you to presume that you know that your sister is willfully being disobedient to God. Cut her some slack! Give your sister the benefit of the doubt. :slight_smile:

Also, what about the words that i posted in my first post, “Faith of our fathers”. It says Mary’s prayers will bring England back to God… How so? It must happen in the heart of the individuals.

Mary prays for England to return to the true faith - Mary always prays for God’s perfect will. Is it not possible that the Anglicans, Muslims, neo-pagans, atheists, secular humanists, etc. in England are living in ignorance of the truth, or that they too are demonically bound in various ways and in need of deliverance?

Sorry, I’m still trying to understand this… I hear people say, “I prayed and prayed that my mother would come back to the church and after years of praying she’s come back!” As if there prayers MADE their mother come back, or MADE God force himself on her… this would be a violation of free-will. how can such a prayer be effectacious?

You are making a false assumption that people believe that their prayer can force someone to make a choice against their free will. We pray for healing grace to be given to a person, so that by being healed, the person is able to make a sane choice for God.


closed #8

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