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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.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

When the disciples made this request to Jesus, they were combing two realities, namely the sovereignty of God ("Lord") and the ministry of prayer ("teach us to pray"). While prayer has never been in question for a Christian as a discipline for spiritual growth, there is the long-standing issue and tension as to exactly how prayer works. There are several models of divine providence which attempt to reconcile the significance and efficaciousness of prayer with the sovereignty of God, ranging from Open Theism and Process Theism to Molinism, Arminianism, and Calvinism. So exactly how and where does prayer fit in to the God-human relationship, and what impact does it really have? Let me just throw out some questions which have been asked:

* "If not a bird falls from the heavens without God's decree, if we live and move and have our being under his sovereignty, if he works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, then in what meaningful sense can we say that prayer changes things?" * "Does prayer really change things, or is the change only affecting the one who is praying?" * "Since God already knows your needs before you ask him, why are you told to bring them to him in prayer? I cannot tell God something he doesn't already know, and God has already decreed a fore-ordained plan to be accomplished, so what's the point in praying, knowing that God has a sovereign blueprint in which he executes all things after the counsel of his will?" * "Simply put, do you believe that the prayers of a righteous man is powerful and effective (accomplishes much) or is petitionary prayer a meaningless exercise of futility?"
These are just some of the questions I have been thinking about in recent days as I study the different models of providence. Yesterday, I spent all afternoon reading how Open Theists like John Sanders, Gregory Boyd, and David Basinger deal with the issue of prayer in light of God's providence. Today, I am working through the Molinists and Arminians. Would anyone like to share their thoughts on the matter and meaning of prayer in light of God's providence? I would love to hear what you think or maybe your answers to the above questions. Later this week, I should hope to post a working bibliography of some resources for those of you who might want to delve into some study of the providence of God. This is an overarching doctrine which encompasses several real and practical issues in the Christian life, including salvation, prayer, the problem of evil, suffering, divine guidance, and general trust and confidence in God.

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