'How should any design of the All-wise be altered in response to prayer of ours!' How are we to believe such a thing?
By reflecting that he is the All-wise, who sees before him, and will not block his path. Such objection springs from poorest idea of God in relation to us. It supposes him to have cares and plans and intentions concerning our part of creation, irrespective of us. What is the whole system of things for, but our education? Does God care for suns and planets and satellites, for divine mathematics and ordered harmonies, more than for his children? I venture to say he cares more for oxen than for those. He lays no plans irrespective of his children; and, his design being that they shall be free, active, live things, he sees that space be kept for them: they need room to struggle out of their chrysalis, to undergo the change that comes with the waking will, and to enter upon the divine sports and labours of children in the house and domain of their Father. Surely he may keep his plans in a measure unfixed, waiting the free desire of the individual soul!
Is not the design of the first course of his children's education just to bring them to the point where they shall pray? and shall his system appointed to that end be then found hard and fast, tooth-fitted and inelastic, as if informed of no live causing soul, but an unself-knowing force--so that he cannot answer the prayer because of the system which has its existence for the sake of the prayer? True, in many cases, the prayer, far more than the opportunity of answering it, is God's end; but how will the further end of the prayer be reached, which is oneness between the heart of the child and of the Father? how will the child go on to pray if he knows the Father cannot answer him? Will not may be for love, but how with a self-imposed cannot? How could he be Father, who creating, would not make provision, would not keep room for the babbled prayers of his children? Is his perfection a mechanical one? Has he himself no room for choice--therefore can give none?
There must be a Godlike region of choice as there is a human, however little we may be able to conceive it. It were a glory in such system that its suns themselves wavered and throbbed at the pulse of a new child-life.
George MacDonald in Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II.