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PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 The "Sinner's Prayer" ala Jonathan Edwards (must read)

Dear Saints,

The letter below is an attempt by Dr. John Gerstner, a noted Edwardian scholar, to set forth what Jonathan Edwards would have counseled a seeker to actually pray based on his own ideas. As you will notice, this prayer would be considered anti-evangelistic in contemporary circles. The church today repudiates such thoughts and would be abhorred to see it in print in any form. Contemporary ministers would never counsel someone to pray a prayer as this. But in light of the survey of Puritan teaching, up and through Edwards, this is surely what the Puritans did say, did counsel and did preach from their pulpits. The doctrine of seeking is essentially gone from 21st century Christendom, but it needs to be revived. Here we see the outworking of such a doctrine practically. After reading this prayer, ask yourself: “Does this shock me?”

[b]The Seeker's Prayer[/b]

"Dear God, whom I hate with all my being precisely because you hate and threaten me with hell, I hate this punishment perhaps even more than I hate you. Or, maybe I should say that I love my comfort even more than I hate you. For that reason I am asking a favor of you. I want you to make me love you, whom I hate even when I ask this and even more because I have to ask this. I am being frank with you because I know it is no use to be otherwise. You know even better than I how much I hate you and that I love only myself. It is no use for me to pretend to be sincere. I most certainly do not love you and do not want to love you. I hate the thought of loving you but that is what I'm asking because I love myself. If you can answer this 'prayer' I guess the gift of gratitude will come with it and then I will be able to do what I would not think of doing now: thank you for making me love you whom I hate. Amen."


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/9 8:10Profile
enid
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Joined: 2006/5/22
Posts: 2660
Nottingham, England

 Re: The "Sinner's Prayer" ala Jonathan Edwards (must read)

Unbelievable! I can't ever remember hearing about this, ever.

It seems blasphemous, but when you read it you remember that you were an enemy of the cross, and that you either love or hate God.

Truth can be so painful, and this is both.

This is a new teaching for me, even though it is definately old.

Will take time to sink in. A very long time.

God bless.

 2006/11/9 8:30Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: The "Sinner's Prayer" ala Jonathan Edwards (must read)

Quote:
The doctrine of seeking is essentially gone from 21st century Christendom, but it needs to be revived.


Yes!

This is remarkable for it's sheer shorning of pretense ... Can you hear it? "Repeat after me..."


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Mike Balog

 2006/11/9 8:34Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re: The "Sinner's Prayer" ala Jonathan Edwards (must read)

Hi Paul,

Quote:
After reading this prayer, ask yourself “Does this shock you?”



Only because it conveys a truth in a way that God would [i]never[/i] do. Though I would agree with much of the truth in the prayer I am certain God would never use such a means to reach a sinner. I am reminded illustrative story of the man whose dog starved to death because when it was time for the dog to eat the man shouted at the top of his lungs and in a most hateful manor, "GET IN HERE AND EAT DOG!! YOUR FOOD IS IN THE DISH!" The dog always went and hid himself and starved to death.

Jesus never told anyone directly that He hated them. He said in one place, [i]But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.[/i] He went out of His way to tell us to bless them that curse us and love our enemies. The 'spirit' of the prayer is not far from the disciples wanting to call down fire from heaven... [i]But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.[/i] (Luke 9:55)

Imagine in a practical sense walking up to a woman you were going to court and saying, "YOU HATE ME! YOU HATE ME DON"T YOU!" I'm married now, and I'm sure this tactic would have done nothing but drive my wife away.

Finney has an excellent sermon in which he talks about the instability of sinners. He reminds us that sinners do hate God whether they know it or not and they are quick to turn on themselves to their own destruction in hardening themselves against God. therefor, he concludes, "He that winneth souls is wise." A familar Proverb, but a powerful one. Dealing with a sinner is like trying to talk down a person who is suicidal. You have to be CAREFUL what you say. I'm pretty sure the prayer is likely meant for illustrative purposes, but we need [u]not[/u] take truthes we know about sinners and rub their noses in them. (ed) Because it would certainly anger them and anger is your enemy in winning souls.

Finney:

[i]If possible, where you wish to converse with a man on the subject of salvation, take him when he is in a good temper. If you find him out of humor, very probably he will get angry and abuse you. Better let him alone for that time, or you will be likely to quench the Spirit. It is possible you may be able to talk in such a way as to cool his temper, but it is not likely. The truth is, men hate God, and though their hatred may be dormant, it is easily excited, and if you bring God fully before their minds when they are already excited with anger, it will be so much the easier to arouse their enmity to open violence.[/i]


God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/9 8:47Profile
PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re:

I hear you Robert, but notice not once in this prayer do you read "God, I know you hate me. I know you hate me. Therefore I am praying this prayer, because I know you hate me." You see, instead, the immortal truth that the sinner hates God and will not come into light. You'll have to produce some hefty scriptural evidence to proport a contrary view, as well as evidence that Jesus, when he preached, never implied it. Edwards was not a hate preacher, nor do I see in this prayer a perversion of God's grace. This is a "seeker's" prayer, built upon the type of theology, when illuminated by the Holy Spirit, which has fostered earth-quaking revival in the past. Why doen't the Holy spirit prick hearts today in such ways with our "please eat this good food, O my precious dog" theology? Not meant to stir contention with you, but post a challenge back at you.

God bless you brother!


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/9 8:54Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
This is a "seeker's" prayer, and the type of theology, when illuminated by the Holy Spirit, fosters true revival.



I understand. There is no doubt that sinners hate God. Yet the underlying spirit of it all is one of contempt and disdain and I see it and wreaks with the wrath of man in speaking on behalf of God. This is perhaps the greatest challenge of repentence preachers- to preach pure wheat without the chaff of their own anger and resentment. Man always wants to add his 2 cents into things and we have to be very careful. Rejection fosters resentment and the tendency is to step up the rhetoric. this is what Luther did when the Jews would not listen.

God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/9 9:04Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: getting our hatred out of the closet

Paul, I love the prayer… no, I mean I hate it… no, really I love it…..

As I pray the words, it rings true. It sweeps away the surface stuff, and exposes the root. I feel it gripping at the core of my heart, underneath all the layers and layers of “fig leaves” – all that with which I cover myself so that I can hide my hatred towards God. Underneath it all, I can see that really, I don’t want God nearly as much as I think I do.

Hate is a strong word, but in the light of God’s requirements, it is most appropriate.

I am reminded of the verse, “Unless you hate your mother, father…. “ I think that hate here is not so much about loathing, as it is about preference. We must hate all that is in the world, even our loved ones, in order to love God purely. In other words: We must not prefer anything or anyone more than God. To the extent that God is not our first love, we hate him. We want something else – maybe his blessings, but not him, maybe even revival.. but not him (!) We hate God!

I admit, underneath my passion for the righteous life is another inner force at work: I crave much more than God himself. I do not love him with ALL my heart, ALL my soul, ALL my mind, ALL my strength. I know it. And I know it because God keeps in exposing my rival loves –like he did with Abraham when he asked him to sacrifice his son.

Those times that I get angry when my rival loves are ripped away from me, really I am angry with God for not letting me keep me what I want. I stomp like a spoilt child. “God, How dare you! Why did you let that happen!!”

I think I will put this prayer on my desktop and pray it every day! There is something intensely purging about it. I believe that this degree of raw honesty is the path to true intimacy with God.

By the way, this same idea, of hating God, is well-articulated by a modern day writer, Dan Allender, in his book, ‘Bold Love’. Perhaps, later, I may submit a quote from that.

(Just a personal opinion, Paul: I might have entitled this post: “Getting our hatred out of the closet”).

Diane


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Diane

 2006/11/9 9:04Profile
PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
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 Re:

Dear Robert,

With deep love, may I propose that you have witnessed some terrible experiences with men who have abused this type of teaching? I have assumed that Edwards, when counselling such, would be filled with the Spirit and these true words would go out with illumination and accomplish God's pupose by pricking consciences without anger or ill-spirited contention or lack of charity or perverted, unchristlike motives. I believe these men's hearts were right with God when they put forth this type of theology, and that's why it was driven home so profoundly. I truly feel there is nothing extra-biblical about this "prayer" except were it prayed in a wrong spirit!

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/9 9:13Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

Quote:
Man always wants to add his 2 cents into things and we have to be very careful.



Good point Robert. Recall something you made mention of quite some time back ... Amounted to "A word in due season", knowing when and where to bring what is necessary for the moment. Would think this would be similar, depending on the person, circumstances ... 'audience' if you will.

Even my own day of reckoning had it's battle of "Yes\no"; "Yes, I desire to know You, to give up everything ... No, I still love my sin". The epitome of a definition ... "I am not ready... yet". "I repent" "I am a liar" "I love You" "I ...;

Joh 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.


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Mike Balog

 2006/11/9 9:25Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Hi Paul,

Quote:
I truly feel there is nothing extra-biblical about this "prayer" except were it prayed in a wrong spirit!



Yes. I have enjoyed Edwards writings also and am sure he would never have anyone repeat this prayer. I don't discount the whole truth of it, I am just trying to say the there is a point when sinners are asked to do well beyong what God has revealed in scripture. There may be young preachers that would take up this prayer and use it in the open air.

I have read it through several times now and have even read it to a brother who is steeped in scripture. No person in their right mind would talk to God like that (in our opinion). Could you say this to God face to face? "Dear God whom I hate with all my being because you hate and threaten me with hell, I hate this punishment even more than I hate you?" Actually, the brother said 'blasphemy' but that was a bit stronger than I would go. He felt it wreaked of arrogance towards God- as a sinner would not so brazenly speak to God in this way.

The way we come to love God is through the revelation of His goodness and mercy. This is why we offer our lives. It is the 'reasonable service' of Romans 12:1. I just think we need to be careful about this. It's OK for us to appreciate the truth of how we are before God, but I think we need to be careful how we bring it out. I could not imagine praying a prayer like this personally. It is entirely too strong. In that I mean it has be distilled from many truths that when removed from their context make for a very caustic prayer.

God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/9 9:37Profile





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