Busy judges seldom change their minds when asked to reconsider a decision. Many states have a procedure that allow a litigant to petition the court to reconsider a decision, but require that something “new” and “substantial” be presented that couldn’t have been submitted at the first hearing.
So, this verse intrigues me. God, the Supreme Judge, has made a decision: punish the Israelites for their hard-headed worship of false gods. [We’ve encountered this problem several times already in Genesis and Exodus, and other chapters of Kings.] Jeboahaz is a corrupt king, and God is angry. He is about to punish the nation by turning them over to the Syrian invaders. Jehoahaz prays a prayer of repentance, and God “listened,” taking into account how the nation had been oppressed by Syria.
Was God lacking understanding, and in need of Jeboahaz to educate him on the situation with the Syrians? Did Jeboahaz intervene just in time to save God from a bad decision? Hardly.
Prayer, I’m persuaded is not to change God, who is perfect and all-knowing and all-wise. Prayer is to change us. Prayer deepens our connection to God, informs us of what we do not know, and moves us into a relationship of faith. The mystery and power of prayer is that it “changes” God’s mind in the sense that God allows another possibility to emerge and go forward because you and I are the “X factor” of free will, and He allows us to affect outcomes because He loves us.
God’s infinite mind and ability to grasp simultaneously all possible outcomes, and to select just one of them based on prayer, is amazing and incomprehensible. Praise and honor to our wonderful, loving God.