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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

CGM: The Purpose-Driven Prayer

CGM is the category which represents my posts on the Church Growth Movement. If you are not familiar with the Purpose-Driven parephenalia, let me be the first to say, "Welcome to planet Earth." Now that is taken care of, some of you may or may not be so much familiar with the 40 Days of Purpose Church Campaign. According to the Purpose-Driven site, over 20,000 churches since 2002 have participated in the 40 Days of Purpose program. Thus, I feel it necessary to point out a serious matter with this program/campaign. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big fan of the "sinner's prayer". This prayer, if prayed by a sinner, is to somehow make someone a believer and is used to somehow convince unregenerate sinners that they have "done the deal" or "nailed it down". This dangerous prayer has become even more troublesome with the advent of Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Prayer. The first time I heard of this was when my wife led a small group in our homes for this campaign. In the introductory video, Rick Warren attempts to present the gospel and call on listeners to become Christians. Within 15 minutes or so of talking (not of the gospel i might add), he calls upon those who want to become a Christian to pray this prayer: Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for. After praying the prayer, Rick Warren follows up by saying, "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God." Unfortunately, my wife and I did not preview the video before showing it, and after having watched it, had to explain to those in our home that this was not the gospel. We were apologizing for the very thing we were supposed to be promoting. I have heard many accounts of people who have said that friends, family, and even themselves were saved by "praying that prayer". While salvation is accomplished by God often in spite of us, this does not permit us to think that such an erroneous presentation does any justice to the gospel or the sinner who sincerely is led to ask, "What must I do to be saved?" Now it is very tempting to take apart this prayer and more importantly what was not mentioned in the prayer and in the presentation, and I can understand that the prayer mentions that the sinner "does not know how", for he has yet to have heard the gospel and guided to flee to Christ! Clearly seen and simply put, the 40 Days of Purpose and Rick Warren do not present the gospel according to Jesus Christ and Scripture, and it is most blatant in his approach on the very first week of small group meetings and his purpose-driven prayer. I will admit that this prayer may have purpose, but I fear that the purpose is unsupported by Scripture and unattested by Jesus. If you don't share of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and clearly explain the call for repentance and faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, you are offering something alien to biblical Christianity and dangerous to the sinner seeking forgiveness of sin and assurance of salvation. If you or someone you know is at the place where the question on your mind is, "What must I do to be saved?", then let me advise you to NOT consider the purpose-driven prayer but rather consider the excellencies of Jesus Christ and taste and see that He is good. Flee to him for salvation and refuse to buy into these insufficient and watered-down attempts to neuter the gospel message. And if you are searching for a real purpose in your life, please understand that it can only be found in the mystery of "Christ in you, the hope of glory". For Christ's sake, let's get the gospel right, lest 20,000 plus churches and their members gamble with eternity with their betting set on such futile and faulty contrivances as in the purpose-driven prayer.

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