I found these posts from an old forum discussion on miracles and prayer.
They are one side of a conversation among several people, but I think they have some ideas that might just be helpful. Here goes.
Old forum posts on miracles and prayer
by Randal Matheny
The assumption is that one must prove that miracles were supposed to stop. I don’t accept that assumption. In Scripture miracles were the exception in sacred history. Usually clumped around significant moments in the redemptive story, Moses and Elijah/Elias, for example. One could rightly expect them in Jesus and his apostles, also. So the proper assumption is that one should prove that our Lord meant for miracles to continue. Considering their purpose, to confirm the message of the gospel, the assumption is confirmed that the new covenant miracles would cease, like those before them.
It is interesting that we don’t find the language of “miracle” associated with prayer. So, no, I don’t consider that we’re asking for a miracle whenever we pray. The power of God, to repeat myself, is not limited to working by miracles (suspending the normal world’s operation to show the divine presence). When the Lord answers prayer, his finger is in every tissue of the human body to work his will. His hand is in every place to perform his wish. A miracle is performed merely that man may by visible and indubitable means see God at work.
Please do not anticipate from where I find evidence of the cessation of miracles. Mentioning, for example, 1 Cor. 13, regardless of how I understand it, is to jump the gun. A conversation will progress when we work on what each one affirms, rather than chewing on positions others may have defended.
I don’t intend to sound mean by that, sorry that I could not put it in more positive terms, or as we say in Brazil, “suave.”
Hi, I just wanted to comment that in one sense you are correct that God is not limited. He is infinite. You are also right that if the Lord decides to do something, he is not limited by our understanding.
We won’t go into the area that God is limited by his own nature and character. That is, God cannot lie, for he is truth. God cannot sin, for he is holy. But an area to keep in mind when we affirm his infinity.
At the same time, he has limited himself in many ways. He limited himself to work through the church for the salvation of the lost. He limits himself in certain ways by waiting on our prayers before acting. He limits himself when through the prophets he spoke of what he would do; he was then limited to do exactly that. He limited himself in that he drew up a plan before the creation to redeem man and follows that plan to this day. Such a plan, even one set forth by the almighty God, is a stricture on what one will do.
In this way we may risk saying that God is limited, or better, has limited himself in how he has chosen to work in this world. Why doesn’t he send Jesus again as a man? Because his plan has limited him to one physical incarnation. Why doesn’t he use governments, armies and force to further the gospel? Because he chose to limit himself to the preaching of the cross and the persuasion that comes through the power of the word.
So why don’t we have miracles today? They were the scaffolding in the early days of the church to confirm the message. Those same miracles performed then and now recorded in the Scriptures continue to confirm for us the authenticity of that message. These points, I suspect, have been well covered here.
So the issue is certainly not the limitations of God. Though I haven’t been able to follow closely the posts on this fine club, I doubt that anyone has suggested that God is so limited by our understanding that he is unable to do his miracles. (Though it’s interesting that Jesus could not do miracles in a certain place because of unbelief, but that’s another story.) And please do not see in the biblical position that miracles are not for today that God is limited in what he can do. On the contrary, it appears that WE limit God if we think he can only work best when he is doing miracles. So we can turn that idea around and make it fit the other foot. You probably don’t like me saying that any more than we like you characterizing our position as a limitation of God. So let’s lay that one aside, shall we?
God is indeed the almighty, infinite Creator and Sustainer of this universe. When he says he will work or cease to work in a certain way, I’ll humbly take him at his word and leave it at that.