Friday, December 21, 2012

Ever been asked "If God is Sovereign, why pray?"

I've been asked this by many people who either don't understand, can't seem to reconcile, or just don't really believe in God's absolute Sovereignty over all things.  Let me start by saying I don't fully understand, but I believe Scripture teaches that God is Sovereign, AND we are both responsible and accountable for our actions (or inactions) to walk in obedience to His Word.

There are many ways to go about answering this, one of which involves explaining how prayer changes us, and gets us in line with what God is doing. But that discussion is for another day.

For today, here's an excellent summary quote from Packer that addresses the question, at least partially. (To address it fully would be nearly inexhaustible).

"There is no tension or inconsistency between the teaching of Scripture on God’s Sovereign foreordination of all things and on the efficacy of prayer. God foreordains the means as well as the end, and our prayer is foreordained as the means whereby He brings His Sovereign Will to pass. "
J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, Page 189

As I ponder and reflect on Scripture this morning, a few more thoughts quickly come to mind:
  1. Jesus Christ Incarnate prayed often, and we have a record of this in the Gospels. We are even privileged to gaze into the Holy of Holies as we see Jesus' High Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17.
  2. Jesus taught his Disciples to pray, and even asked them to "watch and pray" with him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  3. The Church in Acts prayed constantly.
  4. The Patriarchs prayed.
  5. The Children of Israel prayed.
  6. The Psalmists prayed. We are privileged to see inside David's heart as he communed with the LORD through prayer.
  7. The Prophets prayed. Daniel prayed 3 times a day (at least) during the good & the bad times. Jonah prayed from the depths of the sea, the belly of the great fish. Nehemiah and Ezra prayed.
  8. In the Book of Revelation, we are told the Saints of God pray, and the burned incense rising up from the altar represents the "prayers of the Saints"
  9. We are admonished all throughout Scripture to pray, such as: "you have not because you ask not", ask- seek- knock","pray without ceasing", "with prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God", "in all things give thanks", "call to Me and I will answer you", call upon the name of the LORD", etc...
  10. Prayer brings Him Glory! He says repeatedly "I will be Glorified!"
    As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, "The chief end of man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!"
And the list could go on and on...

So in summary, God is Sovereign in and over all things,

Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)
...I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.  I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it
and Christians are to be people of prayer.
Philippians 4:6 (ESV) everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
So to repeat Packer's statement:
"Our prayer is foreordained as the means whereby He brings His Sovereign Will to pass. "
So keep praying! Amen? Amen!

Still confused?  So am I at times, but I'm reminded of the words of the old hymn  "Trust and Obey"...
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
One reason I don't blog as often anymore is that I can't find a good stopping place...Even now, I'm thinking of many more passages to discuss, illustrations to use, directions to go, and could go on writing for pages, and pages, and pages...
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My 2 cents about "Relevance"

 I hear people all the time talking about "relevance", such as relevant sermons, relevant preaching, relevant teaching, etc...
"We don't make the Bible relevant. It is inherently so, simply because it is God's Word."...
"There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance. Application not based on solid interpretation has led Christians into all kinds of confusion.
Dr. John F. MacArthur, Grace To You