God is Omnipresent, a Practical Example

Theology matters.  What we believe about God to be true matters.  It’s not just about lofty thoughts, but can impact our lives in important ways.

I remember reading an internet post on a Christian forum one time when the discussion topic was about God being outside of time, and not bound by it as we are.  Given the source, I have no way of knowing if the story is true.  The question I have always asked myself is could it be true?

A man posted a story about his father-in-law, who was born with Spina Bifida.  That should have caused him numerous health issues but never did, until he was sixty.  At that time he became very ill from the disease.  His daughter prayed and believed God told her to go to her father and pray for his healing, so she did.  But her father ultimately died without being healed.  His daughter was confused, because she had felt so certain God had asked her to pray for his healing.  So in prayer she turned to God to ask if she had misunderstood Him.  The answer she received in prayer was that her prayer for healing had been answered.  It was the prayer God had used to provide the healing that allowed him to live a normal life for sixty years.

I believe without a doubt this story could be true.  Because to God, in eternity all moments of time are present as one moment.  So when the man was an infant, the heartfelt prayer of a daughter not yet born to heal her father was as present to Him as when she offered that prayer as an adult.  To believe that this story is not possible would be to restrain God by time, to place him within the box of time and subordinate to it.

But we can often place God inside that box with our thinking without realizing it.  For example, I have had multiple conversations with different people who have been concerned about the eternal salvation of someone they love.  They have prayed diligently for the grace of conversion.  And they have then felt quite hopeless if that person died without a visible conversion experience.  I have heard the words, more than once, “it’s too late for him now.”

Most Christians, including Catholics believe that at the moment of death, our eternal fate is sealed and we are judged for heaven or hell.  But if we truly believe that God is outside of time, why would we ever think it’s too late to pray for someone’s conversion?  If we believe our prayers for conversion before a person’s death could be efficacious, why would we assume God is somehow constrained and limited by the time He created?  When we utter “it’s too late now” we deny this truth about God and assign to him limitations that are ours, not His.

I think the concern people feel for the eternal state of someone who has died is a “nudge” from God for prayer.  I have experienced it myself as a type of “heaviness” when I think of that person.  My favorite prayer at this time is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but that is just my preference.  Even after a person has died in our sequential experience of time, can we not pray that during their last moments of life they receive the grace to seek God’s mercy and to desire Him most of all?  Will God not hear that prayer as they are stepping from time into eternity?  How can we believe that a prayer prior to the person’s death is somehow of value but one after is not unless we truly believe that time controls God?

Theology matters.  What we believe about God to be true matters.  And we should test our thinking to make sure it hasn’t created a limitation for God that does not exist.

6 thoughts on “God is Omnipresent, a Practical Example

  1. I believe that God is not constrained by time as we are. Or prayers are eternal. We shouldn’t limit the God of creation. Not His mercy, His love and not his timing.

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  2. So I definitely have questions about the argument here. Completely agree that theology matters – and completely agree that God is not bound by time. But we are. I think we should first go to the scriptures to see they say about this.
    Luke 16 is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The main point is that people that won’t believe the scriptures won’t believe even if there were signs and miracles. But there’s also the point of what was said to the rich man in vs 25 “…Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
    Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:”
    And what about all the verses that say ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. There’s definitely an urgency in the scriptures – pleading with us to respond in repentance to God’s call while we still have life. And there are many examples of people that have done just that. Where in the scriptures are there any examples of those that have died and then been saved?

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    • Good to hear from you John.

      I don’t think anyone has ever been saved after death, so if that is the impression I’ve left, then I did a poor job with the post. Catholic teaching is in agreement with Hebrews 9:27. We believe that when we die we are immediately judged by Christ for either heaven or hell. So I don’t disagree at all with what you are saying in that regard. I would never propose that someone could be saved after their death. That would be contrary to Catholic teaching.

      I think you would agree that before the death of a person our prayers for someone can help bring them the grace that leads to repentance and to turn to Christ. Let me know if that’s a wrong turn.

      The only point of the post is even after a person has died, we can continue to pray that prior to their death they receive the grace necessary for conversion and repentance. Even if it is just moments before they die. Could you explain why you would think that would not be the case?

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  3. I came away with the same impression that this was encouraging us to pray for those who have already passed away. I think the reference to “it’s too late for him now” is probably why. I would not dogmatically say that you can not pray for someone after they pass away to be saved before they do, however there are several reasons that I personally do not think this is what God would want. The first is the sufficiency of Scripture. I believe God has revealed all we need to know for faith and practice in the Bible. There is no where in the cannon of scripture that I can think of where we are commanded to, encouraged to , or given an example to pray for those who have already died. In fact I think of examples in the scriptures of interaction with the dead (Saul and Samuel for one) and it is not a good thing. Also I would say while God operates outside of time, because He created time and created the laws that govern time. Gen 1, God has ordained that we operate in the constraints of time. I would reference John’s argument about the urgency of coming to salvation. In 2 Corinthians 6:2 we are reminded that God says “I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

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    • Hi Anita, as always I appreciate your comments.

      I think one area we are very much in agreement is your example of Saul and Samuel. Saul sought to “conjure up” Samuel from the dead in order to have a two-way conversation. He was seeking information about the future. That sort of activity would be expressly forbidden by the Catholic Church along with seances, ouija boards, tarot cards, horoscopes, etc. Not only do they show a lack of trust in God, they can open the door to the occult.

      I don’t see that as being comparable to a prayer asking God for a person to receive the grace to turn their face towards Him prior to their death. So I do believe that is possible. I’ve had multiple experiences where the death of someone has been really heavy on my heart, and after praying for them I have felt released from that burden. Only God knows the purpose of that prayer and what it may have accomplished. But I do see it very much along the lines of “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) We are encouraged to pray about everything.

      I don’t think that diminishes the need for urgency in these matters. We will all stand before Christ and we should always be prepared for we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

      I appreciate that you expressed this as your personal thought. I also understand that in your faith tradition if something isn’t explicitly commanded or spelled out in Scripture, you are less inclined to accept it. That only makes sense. It will be quite a while in these posts before I begin to address the topic of Biblical authority. I look forward to some good discussions then, and hopefully some in between. Thanks again for reading.

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