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beenblake
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Joined: 2005/7/26
Posts: 524
Tennessee, USA

 Re:

Dear hmmhmm,

Quote:
i posted that because i have doubting many peoples prayers and sometimes my very own, because i sometimes think we pray wrong, in that sense many times we try to pray away what God wants us to have.... we pray right but whit the wrong motives, we pray whit the right motives but for the wrong things... we don't always pray whit the bible "as our compass"...



I do not disagree with everything that was posted. There is a great amount of truth within it. However, you have highlighted something that will hinder your prayers and your faith.

The bible has become a crutch to the Church and is harming her growth in Christ. She feeds off it like a baby bottle, without ever seeking Christ in truth. I am saddened by this.

You are correct to say our prayers are wrong. However, it is not because they do not align with the bible. I am trying to show you the truth. It is this very mentality that is hindering many prayers. The bible is not Jesus, and neither is the bible greater than Jesus.

What you must understand is that the bible is a book that needs to be interpreted. You cannot simply read the words and expect to understand. The scripture had to be explained by Jesus to His disciples before they could understand. This is true for us today.

This means that if we are to ever learn the truth in the bible, Jesus must first be revealed to us. When Christ is revealed in truth, then the bible may be proven true. However, many people walk this line backwards. They seek to know Jesus by reading the bible. Instead, we should understand the bible by first knowing Jesus Christ. Jesus First, bible Second.

How do we first know Jesus? How is it our prayers are answered?

The writer was correct in speaking of the unity of our prayers with God's Will. Prayer is about unity with God. Every prayer should be the offering of yourself to Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so that He may then work in us freely. When this happens, we are united as one with God, and our heart is aligned with God's heart. As such, our petitions are what God wants. We ask for what God wants. And so, we are asking for God's Will to be done.

Prayer is the true test of faith. When our faith is true, and we are united as one with God, our prayers will be answered. We are asking for God's Will. However, if our prayers are unanswered, or they come back "no," then something is wrong with our faith. We are not completely surrendered to Jesus.

Whenever a person has an unanswered prayer, they should immediately seek to find out why? Most likely, they are not giving everything to God. They are not seeking Jesus. They are seeking their own way, their own desires apart from God. This is needs to be crucified on the cross.

We come to know Christ in truth when He is free reign in us. When we are completely abandoned to Jesus, and He is Lord over everything in our life, then we will know Him in truth. He will work in us and through us. Our faith will be made true. Our prayers will be answered. We will be a living testimony of truth.

However, the Church has turned the bible into an idol. Many have made the bible Lord of their life. They obey it precisely, not because Christ is controlling them, but because they are trying to earn a way to Heaven. They obey it, because it is easier to follow an external law, than it is to walk with Jesus in faith.

May Christ reign in you as He is the true Word of God. Jesus Christ is the absolute truth. He is supreme. He is master of all, including the bible.

When Jesus has control over us from the inside, we do not have to interpret anything. We do not have to depend upon our own understanding. Instead, we live according to Christ because He controls us.

However, when a person follows the bible, instead of Jesus, they must rely on their own understanding. They do not trust in the Lord, they depend on their own understanding of the bible. They do what they think it says. This is dangerous. It sets up a false idol, which is man's own intelligence, above Christ. So many are falling into this trap.

This idol is leading many astray.

These people also claim to follow the bible. But they ignore it's own words. The bible says:

Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

My prayer, however, is that your eyes will be opened to this truth. May Jesus Christ have complete reign over your life. May the true Word of God abide in you.

I say this to you in the deepest love. May you pray over them and may Christ lead you.

In Christ with love,
Blake


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Blake Kidney

 2007/2/6 11:12Profile
beenblake
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Joined: 2005/7/26
Posts: 524
Tennessee, USA

 Re:

Quote:
Oh, Lord, protect us from error. Protect us from our high-mindedness, protect us from our mendacious professions to have grasped the eternal. Thy Word is truth.



Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the truth.

Do you not agree with this?

Blake


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Blake Kidney

 2007/2/6 11:20Profile
hmmhmm
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Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991
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 Re:

Quote:

beenblake wrote:
What you must understand is that the bible is a book that needs to be interpreted.
Blake




i disagree whit you brother...its not so much interpretation we need...what you need is to obey what you read...


Quote:

beenblake wrote:
However, the Church has turned the bible into an idol. Many have made the bible Lord of their life.




i understand what you say, but dear brother, you come across as you want us to throw away the book, brother Yun the dear saint from china, Ive heard him speak and he said before they had a bible they prayed to the holy dragon should come upon them whit fire..... would you say that was an answer prayer? lead by the spirit or what...whitout the bible you wouldn't even know what Jesus said, i know i wouldn't, i can see what you mean by many have made the bible to an idol, thats true i believe, just reading the bible whiteout the holy spirit use just dead letters... the spirit gives life, the bible is VERY important...the bible is Gods word, its a lamp unto my feet...whitout it i would be so terrible lost in the theological jungle....

its just you sound anti bible Blake, its my belief that we need to believe in the word of God even more than we do, we say we do but we don't do what it says many times, we need to obey his word... the written word that we find in the bible

and i believe my eyes are opened Blake :) i was sitting in a dark room and Jesus came in and hit the lightswitch...and everything was changed... the word(bible) became a living word...piercing into my soul.... i love the word, the bible... because it is a map to my beloved savior,

Your brother in Christ Jesus
Christian


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 11:48Profile
hmmhmm
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 Re:

another thing, i think we are in two different camps Blake, to some degree i can see what you are trying to say, but best i can describe it i believe you are on thin ice brother,

i do want to encourage you brother to listen to Dr Tozers sermon The Word, you can find it here on SI, i found it a very wonderful message, i pray it will bless you the same way it blessed me,


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 12:23Profile
beenblake
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Joined: 2005/7/26
Posts: 524
Tennessee, USA

 Re:

Quote:
i disagree whit you brother...its not so much interpretation we need...what you need is to obey what you read...



In order to obey, you must first interpret the bible. What does the bible say? Why do you think so many people argue over what the bible says? They are trying to make the bible fit their own interpretation. How can anyone obey the bible? How can we understand it?

For example, the bible says we should honor our mother and father. What does that mean? Does that mean we must do everything they say? Does that mean we should honor them like king and queen, giving them all our worship? How do we know when we have obeyed and when we haven't? How should we honor them?

Don't you see that the bible requires interpretation. This produces slavery and bondage. Do you not realize this is the very thing Paul warned us about in Galatians?

True obedience comes through Jesus Christ. It is not about obeying an external law or bible. Jesus died to set us free from the law. We live for Jesus Christ. We live to serve Him.

So many Christians are confused about this. We live in obedience because Christ lives in us, not because we obey the law. There is a tremendous difference here. If any person obeys the bible because they think it is God's Word, they are quickly on their way to Hell. No one can produce good fruit apart from complete surrender to Christ.

When Jesus enters into us, we are controlled by Jesus. When Jesus controls us, we will do everything the law says and more. We will produce good fruit, not because we are doing it, but because Christ is doing it in us. However, if we obey the bible, which is not Jesus, then we are doing it on our own. We are not being filled Jesus, we are obeying an external law. This is not only dangerous, but deadly. Christ will judge us according to the fruit He produces in us. There is a big difference between Christ doing something through us, and doing it on our own.

Quote:
you come across as you want us to throw away the book



I did not say we should throw away the book, and I am sorry if you felt that is what I was saying. We need to view the bible in proper perspective. The Church has given the bible more authority than Christ. Many places in the Church, people have done nothing but search for God in scripture. They need to put their bible down for a time. They need to seek for Christ in spirit and truth. Indeed, the bible is important. However, we must keep it in proper perspective.

Quote:
the bible is Gods word, its a lamp unto my feet



Do you not see? Is the bible really a lamp for your feet? Are you saying that you are lead and directed by the bible?

As Christians, we are lead and directed by Jesus Christ who is our Lord. We follow Jesus. If you are being lead and directed by the bible, then you have a false idol. You have turned the testimony of Jesus into a false God. That is a sin. Can't you see this?

Quote:
we need to believe in the word of God even more than we do



Don't you see that we cannot follow an external law? Don't you see that obeying the bible does nothing for us. We need Jesus Christ to control us by His Spirit. We need to believe in Jesus so that He can control us. When Jesus controls us from the inside, we obey the bible outwardly and more. However, any person who obeys the bible is obeying an external command. They are not following Jesus. They have made the bible into their Lord. They are following a false idol.

To "believe in" something is to have faith. Anyone who places their faith in the bible is placing their faith in the work of God through men, rather than God Himself. Jesus Christ is God. We need to believe in Jesus. We need to have faith in God.

Quote:
the word(bible) became a living word...piercing into my soul....



Don't you see that it was Christ that came alive in you, not the bible. The true Word of God filled you. When you surrendered everything to Jesus, He filled you. The bible became true for you because Jesus reigned over you.

The bible is the testimony of Jesus as given by the Holy Spirit through men. This means that the bible is true and when we experience Christ in truth it will agree with the bible.

However, Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus has all authority. The bible does not. There is a huge difference here. The bible is "profitable" for doctrine. However, who establishes doctrine? Who created it? Jesus Christ did. He is the Head of the Church. We must remember that Christ is master, even of the Sabbath. He is the one who reigns.

Quote:
without the bible you wouldn't even know what Jesus said, i know i wouldn't



Firstly, if a person is controlled by Jesus, then they don't need to know what He said. They are controlled by Jesus and produce fruit accordingly.

Secondly, I am not saying the bible is unimportant. I am saying many have made the bible more important than it is.

Before the protestant reformation, only Church leaders had access to the bible. At the time, the Church was thought to be the greatest authority on earth. In that day and age, the authority of the Church was considered to be supreme. Who could defy the authority of the Holy Church? Then the protestants came and set the Church free from this bondage. In our day and age, the Church has made the bible the supreme authority. Once again, the Church is in bondage.

I ask, when will Christ reign? When will Jesus be King? When will Christ, who has been given all authority by the Father, be given all authority by men?

Do we accept the bible as Lord? Or do we accept Jesus as Lord?

In Christ,
Blake


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Blake Kidney

 2007/2/6 13:05Profile









 Re:

Quote:
When Jesus has control over us from the inside, we do not have to interpret anything. We do not have to depend upon our own understanding. Instead, we live according to Christ because He controls us.



Amen, brother! The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. I pray that we may all come to know Christ and have His mind in us, so that we are no longer able to fulfill the desires of our fleshly minds.

I believe this here is a matter only a new birth can help understand--the Lord Himself coming through His Spirit in us to bear witness with our spirit about what is true. We need simply have a mustard seed of faith. And faith will come by hearing the Word.

In Christ,
Slav

 2007/2/6 13:20
hmmhmm
Member



Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991
Sweden

 Re:

well Blake, Benny Hinn interprets the bible one way, i interpret it another, you might interpret it in another way, I know Benny Hinn says the things he do he does because the bible says that what we should do,

when i "interpret" the bible i come to the conclusion he is absolutely wrong, in his interpretations

i trust Jesus to guide me to all truth, through his word the holy bible, before Luther did what he did, do you believe those persons who bought their way out of hell is now in heaven if they didn't do what the bible says? they paid money to escape hell, i don't understand really what you trying to say brother. Imagine you didn't own a bible, i agree one can be saved and probably have a better relationship whit Jesus even if he never read a bible in his life, i assume that is a possibility.

but I'm almost certain that for my own sake i would walk in total poverty spiritually whiteout this lamp, and it is a lamp unto my feet, i try and live my life according to what God has said, Jesus Christ, how should we dress? how should we talk? how should we pray? how should we use our money? how should we treat our wifes and children? i try obey through the holy spirit in me as he convicts me, sometimes it is when i read my bible, when i read the words spoken by God in the flesh, I'm sorry to say i don't often hear a voice telling me what to do or how to do it. Thats why I'm so grateful for my book, the bible, because it got all the awnsers...the bible itself is not "the" answer...the awnser is Jesus Christ i can have 2000 different Bibles know Hebrew and Greek back wards and forwarders but whiteout Christ it is pointless, God speaks through his holy word, if you haven't experienced that brother you missed something very wonderful :)

i sometimes weep of conviction of sin when reading my bible on my knees, Ive wept for joy reading the bible... tears dripping down on the pages of this book,




Quote:
Do you not see? Is the bible really a lamp for your feet? Are you saying that you are lead and directed by the bible?

As Christians, we are lead and directed by Jesus Christ who is our Lord. We follow Jesus. If you are being lead and directed by the bible, then you have a false idol. You have turned the testimony of Jesus into a false God. That is a sin. Can't you see this?



I'm sorry brother i cant see this....


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 13:34Profile
hmmhmm
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Posts: 4991
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 Re:

here is a quote from Brooks, if this is what you try and get across, i understand...but if it is not...i don't get what you mean, anything done that is not of Christ, is that acceptable even if it is prayer or reading scriptures. If not lead by the spirit is meaningless



Biblical knowledge
Reader, remember this: if your biblical knowledge
does not now affect your heart, it will at last, with
a witness, afflict your heart.
If it does not now endear Christ to you, it will at
last provoke Christ the more against you.
If it does not make all the things of Christ to be
very precious in your eyes, it will at last make
you the more vile in Christ's eyes.


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 13:58Profile
hmmhmm
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 Re: What True Prayer Is

More praying and better is the secret of the whole matter. More time for prayer, more relish and preparation to meet God, to commune with God through Christ—this has in it the whole of the matter. Our manner and matter of praying ill become us. The attitude and relationship of God and the Son are the eternal relationship of Father and Son, of asking and giving—the Son always asking, the Father always giving:

Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Jesus is to be always praying through His people. “And men shall pray to him continually.” “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” We must prepare ourselves to pray; to be like Christ, to pray like Christ.

Man’s access in prayer to God opens everything, and makes his impoverishment his wealth. All things are his through prayer. The wealth and the glory—all things are Christ’s. As the light grows brighter and prophets take in the nature of the restoration, the divine record seems to be enlarged. “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel and his Maker, Ask me of the things that are to come, concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens and all their host have I commanded.”

To man is given to command God with all this authority and power in the demands of God’s earthly Kingdom. Heaven, with all it has, is under tribute to carry out the ultimate, final and glorious purposes of God. Why then is the time so long in carrying out these wise benedictions for man? Why then does sin so long reign? Why are the oath-bound covenant promises so long in coming to their gracious end? Sin reigns, Satan reigns, sighing marks the lives of many; all tears are fresh and full.

Why is all this so? We have not prayed to bring the evil to an end; we have not prayed as we must pray. We have not met the conditions of prayer.

Ask of me. Ask of God. We have not rested on prayer. We have not made prayer the sole condition. There has been violation of the primary condition of prayer. We have not prayed aright. We have not prayed at all. God is willing to give, but we are slow to ask. The Son, through His saints, is ever praying and God the Father is ever answering.

Ask of me. In the invitation is conveyed the assurance of answer; the shout of victory is there and may be heard by the listening ear. The Father holds the authority and power in His hands. How easy is the condition, and yet how long are we in fulfilling the conditions! Nations are in bondage; the uttermost parts of the earth are still unpossessed. The earth groans; the world is still in bondage; Satan and evil hold sway.

The Father holds Himself in the attitude of Giver, Ask of me, and that petition to God the Father empowers all agencies, inspires all movements. The Gospel is divinely inspired. Back of all its inspirations is prayer. Ask of me lies back of all movements. Standing as the endowment of the enthroned Christ is the oath-bound covenant of the Father, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. “And men shall pray to him continually.”

Ever are the prayers of holy men streaming up to God as fragrant as the richest incense. And God in many ways is speaking to us, declaring His wealth and our impoverishment. “I am the Maker of all things; the wealth and glory are mine.Command ye me.”

We can do all things by God’s aid, and can have the whole of His aid by asking. We can have all that God has. Command ye me. This is no figment of the imagination, no idle dream, no vain fancy. The life of the Church is the highest life. Its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most odorous, the most conspicuous.

The Book of Revelation says nothing about prayer as a great duty, a hallowed service, but much about prayer in its aggregated force and energies. It is the prayer force ever living and ever praying; it is all saints’ prayers going out as a mighty, living energy while the lips that uttered the words are stilled and sealed in death, while the living church has an energy of faith to inherit the forces of all the past praying and make it deathless.

The statement by the Baptist philosopher, John Foster, contains the purest philosophy and the simple truth of God, for God has no force and demands no conditions but prayer. “More and better praying will bring the surest and readiest triumph to God’s cause; feeble, formal, listless praying brings decay and death. The Church has its sheet-anchor in the closet; its magazine stores are there.”

“I am convinced,” Foster continues, “that every man who amidst his serious projects is apprized of his dependence upon God as completely as that dependence is a fact, will be impelled to pray and anxious to induce his serious friends to pray almost every hour. He will not without it promise himself any noble success any more than a mariner would expect to reach a distant coast by having his sails spread in a stagnation of air.

“I have intimated my fear that it is visionary to expect an unusual success in the human administration of religion unless there are unusual omens: now a most emphatical spirit of prayer would be such an omen; and the individual who should determine to try its last possible efficacy might probably find himself becoming a much more prevailing agent in his little sphere. And if the whole, or the greater number of the disciples of Christianity were with an earnest and unalterable resolution of each to combine that heaven should not withhold one single influence which the very utmost effort of conspiring and persevering supplication would obtain, it would be a sign that a revolution of the world was at hand.”

Edward Payson, one of God’s own, says of this statement of Foster, “Very few missionaries since the apostles, probably, have tried the experiment. He who shall make the first trial will, I believe, effect wonders. Nothing that I could write, nothing that an angel could write, would be necessary to him who should make this trial.

“One of the principal results of the little experience which I have had as a Christian minister is a conviction that religion consists very much in giving God that place in our views and feelings which He actually fills in the universe. We know that in the universe He is all in all. So far as He is constantly all in all to us, so far as we comply with the Psalmist’s charge to his soul, ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God’; so far, I apprehend, have we advanced towards perfection. It is comparatively easy to wait upon God; but to wait upon Him only to feel, so far as our strength, happiness, and usefulness are concerned, as if all creatures and second causes were annihilated, and we were alone in the universe with God, is, I suspect, a difficult and rare attainment. At least, I am sure it is one which I am very far from having made. In proportion as we make this attainment we shall find everything easy; for we shall become, emphatically, men of prayer; and we may say of prayer as Solomon says of money, that it answereth all things.”

This same John Foster said, when approaching death: “I never prayed more earnestly nor probably with such faithful frequency. ‘Pray without ceasing’ has been the sentence repeating itself in the silent thought, and I am sure it must be my practice till the last conscious hour of life. Oh, why not throughout that long, indolent, inanimate half-century past?”

And yet this is the way in which we all act about prayer. Conscious as we are of its importance, of its vital importance, we yet let the hours pass away as a blank and can only lament in death the irremediable loss.

When we calmly reflect upon the fact that the progress of our Lord’s Kingdom is dependent upon prayer, it is sad to think that we give so little time to the holy exercise. Everything depends upon prayer, and yet we neglect it not only to our own spiritual hurt but also to the delay and injury of our Lord’s cause upon earth. The forces of good and evil are contending for the world. If we would, we could add to the conquering power of the army of righteousness, and yet our lips are sealed, our hands hang listlessly by our side, and we jeopardize the very cause in which we profess to be deeply interested by holding back from the prayer chamber.

Prayer is the one prime, eternal condition by which the Father is pledged to put the Son in possession of the world. Christ prays through His people. Had there been importunate, universal and continuous prayer by God’s people, long ere this the earth had been possessed for Christ. The delay is not to be accounted for by the inveterate obstacles, but by the lack of the right asking. We do more of everything else than of praying. As poor as our giving is, our contributions of money exceed our offerings of prayer. Perhaps in the average congregation fifty aid in paying, where one saintly, ardent soul shuts itself up with God and wrestles for the deliverance of the heathen world. Official praying on set or state occasions counts for nothing in this estimate. We emphasize other things more than we do the necessity of prayer.

We are saying prayers after an orderly way, but we have not the world in the grasp of our faith. We are not praying after the order that moves God and brings all divine influences to help us. The world needs more true praying to save it from the reign and ruin of Satan.

We do not pray as Elijah prayed. John Foster puts the whole matter to a practical point. “When the Church of God,” he says, “is aroused to its obligation and duties and right faith to claim what Christ has promised— ‘all things whatsoever’ —a revolution will take place.”

But not all praying is praying. The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God Himself. “Call upon me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not,” is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work. “Ask of me things to come, concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me”—God’s carte blanche to prayer. Faith is only omnipotent when on its knees, and its outstretched hands take hold of God, then it draws to the utmost of God’s capacity; for only a praying faith can get God’s “all things whatsoever.” Wonderful lessons are the Syrophenician woman, the importunate widow, and the friend at midnight, of what dauntless prayer can do in mastering or defying conditions, in changing defeat into victory and triumphing in the regions of despair. Oneness with Christ, the acme of spiritual attainment, is glorious in all things; most glorious in that we can then “ask what we will and it shall be done unto us.” Prayer in Jesus’ name puts the crowning crown on God, because it glorifies Him through the Son and pledges the Son to give to men “whatsoever and anything” they shall ask.

In the New Testament the marvelous prayer of the Old Testament is put to the front that it may provoke and stimulate our praying, and it is preceded with a declaration, the dynamic energy of which we can scarcely translate. “The supplication of a righteous man availeth much. Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

Our paucity in results, the cause of all leanness, is solved by the apostle James— “Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it on your pleasures.”

That is the whole truth in a nutshell.

I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came at some time—no matter at how distant a day, somehow, in some shape, probably the last I would have devised, it came. —Adoniram Judson.


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 15:08Profile
hmmhmm
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 Re:

GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY AND PRAYER
"If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14).
Throughout this book it has been our chief aim to exalt the Creator and abase the creature. The well-nigh universal tendency now, is to magnify man and dishonor and degrade God. On every hand it will be found that, when spiritual things are under discussion, the human side and element is pressed and stressed, and the Divine side, if not altogether ignored, is relegated to the background. This holds true of very much of the modern teaching about prayer. In the great majority of the books written and in the sermons preached upon prayer the human element fills the scene almost entirely: it is the conditions which we must meet, the promises we must "claim," the things we must do in order to get our requests granted; and God's claims, God's rights, God's glory are disregarded.

As a fair example of what is being given out today we subjoin a brief editorial which appeared recently in one of the leading religious weeklies entitled "Prayer, or Fate?"

"God in His Sovereignty has ordained that human destinies may be changed and molded by the will of man. This is at the heart of the truth that prayer changes things, meaning that God changes things when men pray. Someone has strikingly expressed it this way: 'There are certain things that will happen in a man's life whether he prays or not. There are other things that will happen if he prays; and will not happen if he does not pray.' A Christian worker was impressed by these sentences as he entered a business office and he prayed that the Lord would open the way to speak to some one about Christ, reflecting that things would be changed because he prayed. Then his mind turned to other things and the prayer was forgotten. The opportunity came to speak to the business man upon whom he was calling, but he did not grasp it, and was on his way out when he remembered his prayer of a half hour before, and God's answer. He promptly returned and had a talk with the business man, who, though a church-member, had never in his life been asked whether he was saved. Let us give ourselves to prayer, and open the way for God to change things. Let us beware lest we become virtual fatalists by failing to exercise our God-given wills in praying."

The above illustrates what is being taught on the subject of prayer, and the deplorable thing is that scarcely a voice is lifted in protest. To say that "human destinies may be changed and molded by the will of man" is rank infidelity-that is the only proper term for it. Should any one challenge this classification, we would ask them whether they can find an infidel anywhere who would dissent from such a statement, and we are confident that such an one could not be found. To say that "God has ordained that human destinies may be changed and molded by the will of man" is absolutely untrue. "Human destiny" is settled not by the will of man, but by the will of God. That which determines human destiny is whether or not a man has been born again, for it is written, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." And as to whose will, whether God's or man's, is responsible for the new birth is settled, unequivocally, by John 1:13-"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD." To say that "human destiny" may be changed by the will of man is to make the creature's will supreme, and that is, virtually, to dethrone God. But what saith the Scriptures? Let the Book answer: "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory" (1 Sam. 2:6-8).

Turning back to the Editorial here under review, we are next told, "This is at the heart of the truth that prayer changes things, meaning that God changes things when men pray." Almost everywhere we go today one comes across a motto-card bearing the inscription "Prayer Changes Things." As to what these words are designed to signify is evident from the current literature on prayer-we are to persuade God to change His purpose. Concerning this we shall have more to say below.

Again, the Editor tells us, "Some one has strikingly expressed it this way: 'There are certain things that will happen in a man's life whether he prays or not. There are other things that will happen if he prays, and will not happen if he does not pray.'" That things happen whether a man prays or not is exemplified daily in the lives of the unregenerate, most of whom never pray at all. That 'other things will happen if he prays' is in need of qualification. If a believer prays in faith and asks for those things which are according to God's will he will most certainly obtain that for which he has asked. Again, that other things will happen if he prays is also true in respect to the subjective benefits derived from prayer: God will become more real to him and His promises more precious. That other things 'will not happen if he does not pray' is true so far as his own life is concerned-a prayerless life means a life lived out of communion with God and all that is involved by this. But to affirm that God will not and cannot bring to pass His eternal purpose unless we pray is utterly erroneous, for the same God who has decreed the end has also decreed that His end shall be reached through His appointed means, and One of these is prayer. The God who has determined to grant a blessing also gives a spirit of supplication which first seeks the blessing.

The example cited in the above Editorial of the Christian worker and the business man is a very unhappy one to say the least, for according to the terms of the illustration the Christian worker's prayer was not answered by God at all, inasmuch as, apparently, the way was not opened to speak to the business man about his soul. But on leaving the office and recalling his prayer the Christian worker (perhaps in the energy of the flesh) determined to answer the prayer for himself, and instead of leaving the Lord to "open the way" for him, took matters into his own hand.

We quote next from one of the latest books issued on Prayer. In it the author says, "The possibilities and necessity of prayer, its power and results, are manifested in arresting and changing the purposes of God and in relieving the stroke of His power." Such an assertion as this is a horrible reflection upon the character of the Most High God, who "doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" (Dan. 4: 35). There is no need whatever for God to change His designs or alter His purpose for the all-sufficient reason that these were framed under the influence of perfect goodness and unerring wisdom. Men may have occasion to alter their purposes, for in their short-sightedness they are frequently unable to anticipate what may arise after their plans are formed. But not so with God, for He knows the end from the beginning. To affirm God changes His purpose is either to impugn His goodness or to deny His eternal wisdom.

In the same book we are told, "The prayers of God's saints are the capital stock in Heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon earth. The great throes and mighty convulsions on earth are the results of these prayers. Earth is changed, revolutionized, angels move on more powerful, more rapid wing, and God's policy is shaped as the prayers are more numerous, more efficient." If possible, this is even worse, and we have no hesitation in denominating it as blasphemy. In the first place, it flatly denies Ephesians 3:11 which speaks of God's having an "eternal purpose." If God's purpose is an eternal one then His "policy" is not being "shaped" today. In the second place, it contradicts Ephesians 1:11 which expressly declares that God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will," therefore it follows that, "God's policy" is not being "shaped" by man's prayers. In the third place, such a statement as the above makes the will of the creature supreme, for if our prayers shape God's policy then is the Most High subordinate to worms of the earth. Well might the Holy Spirit ask through the Apostle, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?" (Rom. 11:34).

Such thoughts on prayer as we have been citing are due to low and inadequate conceptions of God Himself. It ought to be apparent that there could be little or no comfort in praying to a God that was like the chameleon, which changes its color every day. What encouragement is there to lift up our hearts to One who is in one mind yesterday and another today? What would be the use of petitioning an earthly monarch if we knew he was so mutable as to grant a petition one day and deny it another? Is it not the very unchangeableness of God which is our greatest encouragement to pray? It is because He is "without variableness or shadow of turning" we are assured that if we ask anything according to His will we are most certain of being heard. Well did Luther remark, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness."

And this leads us to offer a few remarks concerning the design of prayer. Why has God appointed that we should pray? The vast majority of people would reply, In order that we may obtain from God the things which we need. While this is one of the purposes of prayer it is by no means the chief one. Moreover, it considers prayer only from the human side, and prayer sadly needs to be viewed from the Divine side. Let us look, then, at some of the reasons why God has bidden us to pray.

First and foremost, prayer has been appointed that the Lord God Himself should be honored. God requires we should recognize that He is, indeed, "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity" (Isa. 57:15). God requires that we shall own His universal dominion: in petitioning God for rain Elijah did but confess His control over the elements; in praying to God to deliver a poor sinner from the wrath to come we acknowledge that "salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9); in supplicating His blessing on the Gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth we declare His rulership over the whole world.

Again; God requires that we shall worship Him, and prayer, real prayer, is an act of worship. Prayer is an act of worship inasmuch as it is the prostrating of the soul before Him; inasmuch as it is a calling upon His great and holy name; inasmuch as it is the owning of His goodness, His power, His immutability, His grace, and inasmuch as it is the recognition of His Sovereignty, owned by a submission to His will. It is highly significant to notice in this connection that the Temple wasn't termed by Christ the House of Sacrifice, but instead, the House of Prayer.

Again; prayer redounds to God's glory, for in prayer we do but acknowledge dependency upon Him. When we humbly supplicate the Divine Being we cast ourselves upon His power and mercy. In seeking blessings from God we own that He is the Author and Fountain of every good and perfect gift. That prayer brings glory to God is further seen from the fact that prayer calls faith into exercise, and nothing from us is so honoring and pleasing to Him as the confidence of our hearts.

In the second place, prayer is appointed by God for our spiritual blessing, as a means for our growth in grace. When seeking to learn the design of prayer, this should ever occupy us before we regard prayer as a means for obtaining the supply of our need. Prayer is designed by God for our humbling. Prayer, real prayer, is a coming into the Presence of God, and a sense of His awful majesty produces a realization of our nothingness and unworthiness. Again; prayer is designed by God for the exercise of our faith. Faith is begotten in the Word (Rom. 10:8), but it is exercised in prayer; hence, we read of "the prayer of faith." Again; prayer calls love into action. Concerning the hypocrite the question is asked, "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?" (Job 27:10). But they that love the Lord cannot be long away from Him, for they delight in unburdening themselves to Him. Not only does prayer call love into action but through the direct answers vouchsafed to our prayers our love to God is increased-"I love the LORD, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications" (Psa. 116:1). Again; prayer is designed by God to teach us the value of the blessings we have sought from Him, and it causes us to rejoice the more when He has bestowed upon us that for which we supplicate Him.

Third, prayer is appointed by God for our seeking from Him the things which we are in need of. But here a difficulty may present itself to those who have read carefully the previous chapters of this book. If God has foreordained, before the foundation of the world, everything which happens in time, what is the use of prayer? If it is true that "of Him and through Him and to Him are all things" (Rom. 11:30), then why pray? Ere replying directly to these queries it should be pointed out how that there is just as much reason to ask, What is the use of me coming to God and telling Him what He already knows? Wherein is the use of me spreading before Him my need, seeing He is already acquainted with it? as there is to object, What is the use of praying for anything when everything has been ordained beforehand by God? Prayer is not for the purpose of informing God, as if He were ignorant (the Saviour expressly declared "for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him"-Matt. 6:8), but it is to acknowledge He does know what we are in need of. Prayer is not appointed for the furnishing of God with the knowledge of what we need, but is designed as a confession to Him of our sense of need. In this, as in everything, God's thoughts are not as ours. God requires that His gifts should be sought for. He designs to be honored by our asking, just as He is to be thanked by us after He has bestowed His blessing.

However, the question still returns on us, If God be the Predestinator of everything that comes to pass, and the Regulator of all events, then is not prayer a profitless exercise? A sufficient answer to these questions is that God bids us to pray, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). And again, "men ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1). And further: Scripture declares that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," and "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:15, 16); while the Lord Jesus Christ, our perfect Example in all things, was preeminently a Man of Prayer. Thus, it is evident, that prayer is neither meaningless nor valueless. But still this does not remove the difficulty nor answer the question with which we started out. What then is the relationship between God's Sovereignty and Christian prayer?

First of all, we would say with emphasis, that prayer is not intended to change God's purpose, nor is it to move Him to form fresh purposes. God has decreed that certain events shall come to pass through the means He has appointed for their accomplishment. God has elected certain ones to be saved, but He has also decreed that these shall be saved through the preaching the Gospel. The Gospel, then, is one of the appointed means for the working out of the eternal counsel of the Lord; and prayer is another. God has decreed the means as well as the end, and among the means is prayer. Even the prayers of His people are included in His eternal decrees. Therefore, instead of prayers being in vain they are among the means through which God exercises His decrees. "If indeed all things happen by a blind chance, or a fatal necessity prayers in that case could be of no moral efficacy, and of no use; but since they are regulated by the direction of Divine wisdom, prayers have a place in the order of events" (Haldane).

That prayers for the execution of the very things decreed by God are not meaningless is clearly taught in the Scriptures. Elijah knew that God was about to give rain, but that did not prevent him from at once betaking himself to prayer (James 5:17, 18). Daniel "understood" by the writings of the prophets that the captivity was to last but seventy years, yet when these seventy years were almost ended we are told that he set his face "unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes" (Dan. 9:2, 3). God told the prophet Jeremiah "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end"; but instead of adding, there is, therefore, no need for you to supplicate Me for these things, He said, "Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you" (Jer. 29:11, 12).

Here then is the design of prayer: not that God's will may be altered, but that it may be accomplished in His own good time and way. It is because God has promised certain things that we can ask for them with the full assurance of faith. It is God's purpose that His will shall be brought about by His own appointed means, and that He may do His people good upon His own terms, and that is, by the 'means' and 'terms' of entreaty and supplication. Did not the Son of God know for certain that after His death and resurrection He would be exalted by the Father. Assuredly He did. Yet we find Him asking for this very thing: "O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:5)! Did not He know that none of His people could perish? yet He besought the Father to "keep" them (John 17:11)!

Finally, it should be said that God's will is immutable, and cannot be altered by our cryings. When the mind of God is not toward a people to do them good, it cannot be turned to them by the most fervent and importunate prayer of those who have the greatest interest in Him: "Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth" (Jer. 15:1). The prayers of Moses to enter the promised land is a parallel case.

Our views respecting prayer need to be revised and brought into harmony with the teaching of Scripture on the subject. The prevailing idea seems to be that I come to God and ask Him for something that I want, and that I expect Him to give me that which I have asked. But this is a most dishonoring and degrading conception. The popular belief reduces God to a servant, our servant: doing our bidding, performing our pleasure, granting our desires. No; prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need, committing my way unto the Lord, and leaving Him to deal with it as seemeth Him best. This makes my will subject to His, instead of, as in the former case, seeking to bring His will into subjection to mine. No prayer is pleasing to God unless the spirit actuating it is "not my will, but Thine be done." "When God bestows blessings on a praying people, it is not for the sake of their prayers, as if He was inclined and turned by them; but it is for His own sake, and of His own Sovereign will and pleasure. Should it be said, to what purpose then is prayer? it is answered, This is the way and means God has appointed for the communication of the blessing of His goodness to His people. For though He has purposed, provided, and promised them, yet He will be sought unto, to give them, and it is a duty and privilege to ask. When they are blessed with a spirit of prayer it forebodes well, and looks as if God intended to bestow the good things asked, which should be asked always with submission to the will of God, saying, Not my will but Thine be done" (John Gill).

The distinction just noted above is of great practical importance for our peace of heart. Perhaps the one thing that exercises Christians as much as anything else is that of unanswered prayers. They have asked God for something: so far as they are able to judge they have asked in faith believing they would receive that for which they had supplicated the Lord: and they have asked earnestly and repeatedly, but the answer has not come. The result is that, in many cases, faith in the efficacy of prayer becomes weakened, until hope gives way to despair and the closet is altogether neglected. Is it not so?

Now will it surprise our readers when we say that every real prayer of faith that has ever been offered to God has been answered? Yet we unhesitatingly affirm it. But in saying this we must refer back to our definition of prayer. Let us repeat it. Prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need (or the need of others), committing my way unto the Lord, and then leaving Him to deal with the case as seemeth Him best. This leaves God to answer the prayer in whatever way He sees fit, and often, His answer may be the very opposite of what would be most acceptable to the flesh; yet, if we have really LEFT our need in His hands it will be His answer, nevertheless. Let us look at two examples.

In John 11 we read of the sickness of Lazarus. The Lord "loved" him, but He was absent from Bethany. The sisters sent a messenger unto the Lord acquainting Him of their brother's condition. And note particularly how their appeal was worded-"Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." That was all. They did not ask Him to heal Lazarus. They did not request Him to hasten at once to Bethany. They simply spread their need before Him, committed the case into His hands, and left Him to act as He deemed best! And what was our Lord's reply? Did He respond to their appeal and answer their mute request? Certainly He did, though not, perhaps, in the way they had hoped. He answered by abiding "two days still in the same place where He was" (John 11:6), and allowing Lazarus to die! But in this instance that was not all. Later, He journeyed to Bethany and raised Lazarus from the dead. Our purpose in referring here to this case is to illustrate the proper attitude for the believer to take before God in the hour of need. The next example will emphasize rather, God's method of responding to His needy child.

Turn to 2 Corinthians 12. The Apostle Paul had been accorded an unheard-of privilege. He had been transported into Paradise. His ears had listened to and his eyes had gazed upon that which no other mortal had heard or seen this side of death. The wondrous revelation was more than the Apostle could endure. He was in danger of becoming "puffed up" by his extraordinary experience. Therefore, a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, was sent to buffet him lest he be exalted above measure. And the Apostle spreads his need before the Lord; he thrice beseeches Him that this thorn in the flesh should be removed. Was his prayer answered? Assuredly, though not in the manner he had desired. The "thorn" was not removed but grace was given to bear it. The burden was not lifted but strength was vouchsafed to carry it.

Does someone object that it is our privilege to do more than spread our need before God? Are we reminded that God has, as it were, given us a blank check and invited us to fill it in? Is it said that the promises of God are all-inclusive, and that we may ask God for what we will? If so, we must call attention to the fact that it is necessary to compare Scripture with Scripture if we are to learn the full mind of God on any subject, and that as this is done we discover God has qualified the promises given to praying souls by saying "If ye ask anything according to His will He heareth us" (1 John 5:14). Real prayer is communion with God so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him. Here then is the meeting-place between God's Sovereignty and Christian prayer: If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us, and if we do not so ask He does not hear us; as saith the Apostle James, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" or desires (4:3).

But did not the Lord Jesus tell His disciples, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you" (John 16:23)? He did; but this promise does not give praying souls carte blanche. These words of our Lord are in perfect accord with those of the Apostle John: "If ye ask anything according to His will He heareth us." What is it to ask "in the name of Christ"? Surely it is very much more than a prayer formula, the mere concluding of our supplications with the words "in the name of Christ." To apply to God for anything in the name of Christ, it must needs be in keeping with what Christ is! To ask God in the name of Christ is as though Christ Himself were the suppliant. We can only ask God for what Christ would ask. To ask in the name of Christ is therefore to set aside our own wills, accepting God's!

Let us now amplify our definition of prayer. What is prayer? Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude-an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. Prayer is a confession of creature weakness, yea, of helplessness. Prayer is the acknowledgment of our need and the spreading of it before God. We do not say that this is all there is in prayer, it is not: but it is the essential, the primary element in prayer. We freely admit that we are quite unable to give a complete definition of prayer within the compass of a brief sentence, or in any number of words. Prayer is both an attitude and an act, an human act, and yet there is the Divine element in it too, and it is this which makes an exhaustive analysis impossible as well as impious to attempt. But admitting this, we do insist again that prayer is fundamentally an attitude of dependency upon God. Therefore, prayer is the very opposite of dictating to God. Because prayer is an attitude of dependency, the one who really prays is submissive, submissive to the Divine will; and submission to the Divine will means that we are content for the Lord to supply our need according to the dictates of His own Sovereign pleasure. And hence it is that we say every prayer that is offered to God in this spirit is sure of meeting with an answer or response from Him.

Here then is the reply to our opening question, and the scriptural solution to the seeming difficulty. Prayer is not the requesting of God to alter His purpose or for Him to form a new one. Prayer is the taking of an attitude of dependency upon God, the spreading of our need before Him, the asking for those things which are in accordance with His will, and therefore there is nothing whatever inconsistent between Divine Sovereignty and Christian prayer.

In closing this chapter we would utter a word of caution to safeguard the reader against drawing a false conclusion from what has been said. We have not here sought to epitomize the whole teaching of Scripture on the subject of prayer, nor have we even attempted to discuss in general the problem of prayer; instead, we have confined ourselves, more or less, to a consideration of the relationship between God's Sovereignty and Christian prayer. What we have written is intended chiefly as a protest against much of the modern teaching, which so stresses the human element in prayer that the Divine side is almost entirely lost sight of.

In Jeremiah 10:23 we are told "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (cf. Prov. 16:9); and yet in many of his prayers man impulse presumes to direct the Lord as to His way, and as to what He ought to do: even implying that if only he had the direction of the affairs of the world and of the church he would soon have things very different from what they are. This cannot be denied: for anyone with any spiritual discernment at all could not fail to detect this spirit in many of our modern prayer-meetings where the flesh holds sway. How slow we all are to learn the lesson that the haughty creature needs to be brought down to his knees and humbled into the dust. And this is where the very act of prayer is intended to put us. But man (in his usual perversity) turns the footstool into a throne from whence he would fain direct the Almighty as to what He ought to do! giving the onlooker the impression that if God had half the compassion that those who pray (?) have, all would quickly be right! Such is the arrogance of the old nature even in a child of God.

Our main purpose in this chapter has been to emphasize the need for submitting, in prayer, our wills to God's. But it must also be added that prayer is much more than a pious exercise, and far otherwise than a mechanical performance. Prayer is, indeed, a Divinely appointed means whereby we may obtain from God the things we ask, providing we ask for those things which are in accord with His will. These pages will have been penned in vain unless they lead both writer and reader to cry with a deeper earnestness than heretofore, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).

A W Pink


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/2/6 15:21Profile





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