I'm really curious to find out what Jonathan Edwards has to say about prayer. The reason being that if he has a predestinarian view of God and the workings of the universe, then what is the reason for prayer in the first place? When we are "conversing" with God, either in praise, penitence or petition, what are we actually doing? The prime issue of this paper will deal with the purpose for prayer: Is it to alleviate our own conscience, or does it influence our Maker's acts in this world?
The question I hope to shed the Almighty Light of Truth upon:
1. Is God affected by the prayers of his creatures?With these questions burning in my mind I plan to delve into the scripture and the works of Edwards to see if his answers hold any water. I will also study other assorted opinions on the subject to find out how his opposition will plausibly answer these questions. The personal relationship with Christ relies heavily on that time spent in prayer. I want to know how Edwards justifies his stance of predestination in light of this. It always goes back to Free Will you realize, everything ties in to that. I know you'll want to know my opinion on this whole thing by the end of my research, it should be a very enlightening study for me
2. When we are truly praying, is it just God conversing with himself through us? a soliloquy?
3. How does Edwards answer the questions raised from scriptures-
a) ask and it shall be given unto you
b) ask in the name of God and it will be granted (i.e.: prayers for the sick, James 5:15)
c) The purpose of the Lord's prayer - a command to pray
4. Why pray for unbelievers if their fate has already been decided?
5. If our prayers don't affect God one way or the other, then what is the purpose for them in the first place?
6. Is prayer merely to fulfill a vacancy in us? Are we simply satisfying a craving?
7. What would Edwards say to a person who finds no reason to pray as a result of his predestinarian views?
The Holy Bible--NIV
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1,2, Banner of Truth ed.
Bercovitch, Sacvan. The American Puritan Imagination. Cambridge University Press: London, 1974.
Carmody, Denise and John. The Republic of Many Mansions. Paragon House Pub.: New York, 1990.
Jenson, Robert W. America's Theologian: a Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards. Oxford University Press: New York, 1988.
Tappan, Henry Philip. A Review of Edwards's "Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will". John S. Taylor Theological Pub.: New York, 1839.