I have often heard Arminians claim that Calvinism makes prayer meaningless. I am not interested here of defending the biblical doctrines of prayer and Divine sovereignty. What I wish to point out is the striking fact that Arminianism makes prayer for lost souls meaningless, for much worse reasons than the supposed contradiction of Calvinist prayer.
It is mind-boggling, to say the least, that Arminianism wishes to strip God of His sovereign power over all things, including men’s wills, yet they have no problem ascribing near impenetrable sovereignty to man. They stress over and over again the freedom of man’s will and his need to exercise this free-will in order to be saved, yet they find no contradiction in praying for their lost loved ones! What do they expect God to do? If God is unable to exert his power over men’s free-will, lest He make them robots, what is He supposed to do in answer to prayers for the lost? He is as helpless as we are to move the almighty free-will of man.
Indeed, is there any prayer that doesn’t at some point require some action from another human being? When I pray for some need to be met, doesn’t that involve God impressing the need upon someone else who is capable of helping? But, on the Arminian scheme, how can God violate this person’s volition? When I pray for someone’s safety on a trip, doesn’t that involve other motorists and pedestrians? How can I ask God to violate their autonomy, if indeed they have it?
The sarcasm is intentional. I have heard Arminians ignorantly rant about the robot-producing doctrines of Calvinism. I think it’s high time someone railed against the ear-tickling doctrines of Arminianism and their turning of God into a spineless wimp whose every plan is thwarted by His runaway creatures.
Moreover, the Arminian objections are selective. For as George Smeaton points out, “There is as little interference with human liberty in receiving the work of the Spirit to regenerate us, as in receiving the work of the Son to redeem and justify us.” The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit, 203.
So, the question “Why pray” really looms larger for the Arminian than it does for the Calvinist. As a Calvinist, I can say that God claims to work all things according to His will (Eph. 1:11), yet He also instructs me to pray. If God sees no contradiction in this, where do I get off assuming one? But, for an Arminian, what does he expect God to do when he prays? Virtually every prayer, whether for the salvation of the lost, or for anything else, inevitably runs into a human being from whom the pray-er wishes some action. But how can he with a straight face ask God to cause anyone to do anything? How can one affirm such a high view of man’s autonomy and yet ask God to do anything when it involves a human being’s will? He might as well pray to Baal or Daffy Duck, because they have as much power over man’s supposed autonomous will.