Thursday, May 07, 2009

Prayer: a reminder

One of the most upsetting posts (to some traditionalists) that I have written thus far at Pyro was about — not tongues, not the Gospel, not marriage, not church, but — prayer.

It was in September of 2006, and it was called What prayer is and isn't.

Towards the start, I say:
I can't think of one specific doctrine, offhand, which is more tradition-laden, and buried under sentimentality, than that of prayer.

For that very reason, it's a risky topic. Step in any direction, and you land on someone's toes. Worse, diverge from the "party line," and it's as if you're insulting Mom. Only a fool, or someone with nothing to lose, would knowingly poke a stick at that particular venerated bovine. (Say, why are you looking at me like that?)
...and then I launch.

One other portion:
Prayer is not a dialogue. Prayer is not a conversation. Prayer has no intrinsic power, whatever.
Give it a read, on this American National Day of Prayer.

11 comments:

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Dan,

People should be careful what they read and how they read. The CBD catalog is full of books you should not read, Peretti is just one example. I had some old friends who read one or more of his books and they just went off the deep end. Started beveling in magic, the worst sort of magic. If I do and say just the right things then this will happen.

Having some acquaintance with paganism helps us to identify an intrinsically pagan idea when it crops up in what is labeled a "christian" book.

I suspect that the vast majority of best selling "christian" are probably laced with a heavy dose of pagan ideas. I don't read this garbage but I hear people talking that have read this or that author and the say things that are clearly, without a doubt, pagan notions that any well founded christian shoud be able to identify and reject instantaneously.

The Squirrel said...

I remember that post - good then, good now. And I remember sitting slack-jawed as I read the comments, thinking, "Where do people come up with this stuff?"

Then I followed some of the links to some of the "refutations"...

Way too many Christians have magical and superstitious ideas about things.

~Squirrel

RT said...

From the Book of Common Prayer. I can't say whether it is theologically sound, but it sure is elegant:

65. For the Answering of Prayer

Almighty God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of
those who ask in thy Son's Name: We beseech thee mercifully
to incline thine ear to us who have now made our prayers and
supplications unto thee; and grant that those things which we
have faithfully asked according to thy will, may effectually be
obtained, to the relief of our necessity, and to the setting forth
of thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sir Aaron said...

Squirrel:

You're on to something there. I think part of it is the remaining vestiges of Catholicism.

And great post, Dan. I didn't read the comments but I found myself agreeing 100% with what you said. I frequently find myself watching Christians use prayer as some sort of magic incantation.

Kristine said...

The post was *new* to me.

I loved it, and to be honest, the comments didn't really shock me much.

I did do my fair share of shaking my head though. These notions are most common, unfortunately.

Mesa Mike said...

Sir Aaron:
I frequently find Christians skipping the prayer altogether and going straight to the magic incantations (in "Jesus' Name", of course).

Stefan said...

Dan:

One commentor on that post brought up the old adage of "be careful what you pray for."

About a week before I came to faith in Christ, my wife and I were in our Bible study group. I still had no conscious concept of regeneration, and figuring I already "knew Jesus" (hah!), my prayer request was that "Jesus would touch my wife's heart" (yes, the words are kind of gooey, I know).

Anyhow, so what happened? Nothing visibly to my wife, but six nights later, I was brought to the end of myself, surrendered to Christ, and the following evening, was literally down on my knees in tears, brought to repentance and conviction of sin.

So in a sense, one could say that the Lord did indeed answer my prayer request that evening—or at least, two years on, began that evening to answer my prayer, and is still in the process of answering it—by touching my stone-cold heart, in order to one day touch hers through mine.

(Whether I was bringing judgment upon myself for asking for such a thing in my spiritual state, I do not know for certain, except that our Lord and Saviour paid for it on the Cross; I had, however, undeniably heard the effectual Gospel call the previous Sunday, but had not yet consciously responded to it in faith.)

Stefan said...

And on the other hand, just in the last 24 hours, I've gone through such a huge ordeal at work, that I couldn't even pray...I was so burdened, and there was so much going through my mind, that for once in my life, I didn't even know what exactly to pray for, or how to articulate it.

And yet, something happened late this afternoon at work that, in hindsight, was exactly the answer to exactly the prayer I would have prayed, if I'd been able to put it into words. It was truly an application of Romans 8:26-27.

DJP said...

That was a wonderful testimony, Stefan. Thanks for sharing it with us. Glory to God.

The IBEX Scribe said...

Looks like I'm a day or 6 late in reading this post, but I really appreciated that post. I heard a lesson taught in a Sunday School class a few years ago on prayer that claimed essentially that God has chosen prayer as His tool, and therefore He needs our prayer in order to work. I don't know if that is what the teacher meant or just how I understood what he said, but I disagreed so much with it.

We pray not to change the mind or will of God. We pray not because God needs us to pray. We pray because God is able to do so much more than we could ever ask or think. Prayer should be an act of worship to the God who can, not to free His hands to do work.

DJP said...

Nice to see you back.

Many of my prayers have featured the phrase, "You don't need me to tell You this, but...."