Question: Our adult Bible class teacher says Jesus was half God and half man; that God can only act in response to our prayers; and that when the one prayed for isn’t healed it’s because there hasn’t been enough prayer and fasting. Are these ideas biblical?
Response: The teacher may not be a heretic but poorly expressing the idea that God is Jesus’ Father and Mary His mother. The virgin birth is not like having an Irish father and French mother and being half-Irish and half-French. Jesus is fully God and fully man: “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tm 3:16), not half-God manifest in half-flesh. The same verse calls this a “great mystery.” Isaiah called the virgin-born child “Immanuel,” which means “God [not half-God] with us” (7:14, Mt 1:23)—“The mighty God [not half-God], The everlasting Father” (Is 9:6).
Paul called Him “God our Saviour” (1 Tm 1:1; 2:3; Ti 1:3,4 2:10,13; 3:4) as did Peter (2 Pt 1:1) and Jude (v 25). To be our Savior He had to be God (Is 43:11) and man (Rom:5:12-21), not a hybrid or half-breed. Ask your teacher if this is what he means.
That God doesn’t need our prayers in order to act is obvious. He did a great deal, even creating the universe without our prayers. Our prayers didn’t cause Christ to be born into the world and to die for our sins. It is not our prayers that will usher in a new universe, though God gives us the privilege to pray “Thy kingdom come.” If God could act only in response to our prayers He would be at our mercy, His hands tied most of the time, unable to do what in His infinite wisdom and knowledge He knows ought to be done but of which in our limited understanding we are ignorant or haven’t considered. Moreover, He couldn’t meet emergencies that we didn’t know would occur and thus hadn’t prayed about. That’s unbiblical and illogical.
To say that failure to be healed is due to a lack of prayer and fasting is equally foolish. That implies that we can cause God to do whatever we pray for, if we pray and fast long and hard enough—that we can impose our will upon God. What about God’s will? It also suggests that God’s will is to heal everyone every time. On the contrary, sickness and death are part of God’s judgment upon mankind for sin, which will only be abolished in the new heaven and new earth. God has something better for us than perpetuating our lives endlessly in these bodies of sin.
Prayer is one of our privileged opportunities which God provides for communion with Him, for molding us and conforming our minds to His will, and for encouraging our faith in Him by His response to our requests.
We recommend you read a detailed discussion on prayer and faith which appears in Beyond Seduction.