Can we determine the will of God through prayer?
1999 to 2000: Design of a pilot study
Biblical and other quotations about assessing the will of God:
(From the King James Version;
spelling is updated for clarity)
Psalms 86:6-7: "Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the
voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you:
for you will answer me."
Proverbs 2:3-6: "Yea, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your
voice for understanding...Then you shall understand the fear of the LORD,
and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth
comes knowledge and understanding."
Proverbs 3:6: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct
Jeremiah 33:2-3: "Thus said the LORD...Call unto me, and I will answer
you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not."
James 1:5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who
gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him."
Arthur Koestler, referring to prayer: "God seems to have left the
receiver off the hook and time is running out."
Determining the will of God: a preliminary study
Our web site includes descriptions of many different world religions. Our visitors
come from a wide range of faith groups. We attempt to
describe all aspects of many "hot" religious
topics: often from the religiously conservative, religiously liberal, and other points of view. We decided that ours was the ideal site
to conduct a study of whether prayer can determine the will of
God on a controversial question.
We selected a matter about which people tended to have
strongly polarized beliefs: same sex marriage (SSM). At the time, the topic was being stridently debated, but no political jurisdiction in the world had legalized marriage by same-sex couples. That was to come later: in 2001 for the Netherlands, 2004 for Canada, 2015 for the U.S., etc.
two options were:
||Whether the state should continue to restrict marriage to
persons of the opposite sex, or
||Whether loving, committed couples of all sexual orientations should have an equal
right to marry, and enjoy the status, economic benefits, and government
services that marriage
would bring to them.
Opinion among our visitors and in society generally was sharply divided:
Most religious conservatives considered same-sex
marriage to be an abomination, and an attack on the God-ordained
heterosexual family. They believed that marriage must be
reserved for opposite-sex couples only.
||Many religious liberals, Agnostics and Atheists viewed the question from
a human rights perspective. They see no more fundamental and personal human
right than the right to marry the person that one loves. They feel that all mature
people -- whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual -- should be allowed to marry the person that they love with whom they wish to form a lifelong relationships, subject to the usual restrictions
concerning genetically related individuals and age.
The two groups often could not
even agree on the nature of sexual orientation -- whether it is a chosen,
changeable preference or an unchosen, fixed orientation. It is doubtful that a
consensus will be reached on the matter of same-sex marriage in the foreseeable
future. But we thought that they might be able to assess the will of God on this matter through
Details of the study:
We published a notice on our web site encouraging visitors to take part in our
study to assess the will of God. We E-mailed a form to each visitor to our web site
who had asked to be included in the study. Subjects were thus
self-selected. The form asked the recipient:
||Whether they were currently in favor of or opposed to same-sex
||Some personal data -- their sexual orientation, religious affiliation,
and which "wing" of that religion that they followed.|
||To seek God's will for same-sex
marriages through prayer.|
|To continue praying until they received a response from God, or felt
that the attempt was hopeless.|
||If they were successful in assessing God's position on SSM, then
||what God's will is, and
||how certain are they that they correctly assessed God's will.
We received 75 useable responses over the period 1999-JUL to 2000-JAN. A
summary of the results and
information is available.
Copyright © 2000 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2018-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson