As Christians, we learned to pray “Thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer. We learned that Jesus asked his Father to save him from crucifixion–but concluded his plea with “Thy will be done.”
But can we pray: “If this (cancer, war, famine, poverty) is your will, God, we ask that you change your will!” Too bold, presumptuous, arrogant?
There are examples in Holy Scripture of God’s changing his will, but with one exception, all of these examples involve certain people repenting of their sins before God’s promised punishment was carried out. The one exception is found in Exodus 32 when Moses had gone to the mountain to receive from God commandments written on tablets of stone. When the Israelites grew impatient with Moses’ slow return to them, they persuaded Aaron to build a molten calf to worship. Aaron complied, and the people worshipped.
God saw what was happening, burned with anger, and vowed to destroy Israel. In Exodus 32:11-14 (NASB), we read: “Then Moses entreated the Lord his God…’Turn your burning anger and change your mind about doing harm to your people’…So the Lord changed his mind.” This occurred before the Israelites had repented in any way.
Can we change God’s mind? True, we are not Moses, who had one of the closest relationships with God recorded in scripture. But we believe in God, his power, his love for us.
Quite a number of years ago, a good friend was severely injured on a construction site. Death seemed imminent. A group of his friends gathered. I was asked to pray. I prayed if our friend’s death was God’s will, that he change his will, allow our friend to live, and make him well.
The experience made me feel unusually close to God, even though my friend died. Talking to God should provide a state of intimacy. This sort of intimacy can be created only if we feel free to talk to him about anything.