Thursday, November 24, 2016

Holy Living and Petitionary Prayer

     I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a small prayer group in a short devotional time on Thursday. This article is a distillation of those thoughts.

 Petitionary Prayer is a type of prayer that should be the staple diet of the Christian.

     I get the sense both from others and from myself that Christians sometimes tend to think of petitionary prayer (Asking God for things) as a sort of lower tier of prayer that a weaker Christian might use a lot–but only until he can "rise above it" and eventually begin to weed out those egocentric demands and begin to really pray–i.e. thank God and praise God and confess sins, etc...but avoid asking God to do things.
     It is interesting that in Luke 11, when Jesus' disciples come to him and ask him "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples" Jesus responds with a petition-filled prayer:

"When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation." -Luke 11:2-4

...Basically, Father! I want your name to be hallowed! Your kingdom come! Give me what I need! Forgive my sins! Keep me safe and pure!
Ask, ask, ask. 

Jesus isn't done, however. He continues with a parable to illustrate how this prayer dynamic should work. He uses a common logical argument where one posits the truth of a smaller situation that implies the truth of a larger situation. In the parable Jesus explains that even in sinful human relationships, those who ask for things will be given them, and even children who ask their parents for their needs will have their needs met. Will not God, who is perfect and who is also our father, not also meet our needs and give us what we ask?
     Obviously this isn't a blanket statement advertising this vision of God as the "cosmic bell-hop" (thanks for that example, R.C.!), for Jesus also says in John 14 that "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the father may be glorified in the son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (Italics mine). Obviously Christians must always pray in the Spirit, and if we are seeking our own glory or praying for things that are sinful or from wrong motives (any motive that does not have the glory of Christ at its center) then we aren't really praying, at all, much less wrongly, because the only reason our prayers are effective at all is because they are through the Holy Spirit and advocated to God from Christ. To use a cheesy analogy, the Holy Spirit is a kind of stamp on the letter that is our prayer. And the Holy Spirit isn't putting His stamp on a prayer that doesn't seek The glory of God. And without a stamp, the letter isn't going anywhere!
     I ramble, but my point is that in the same way that Parents love and desire to bestow gifts and blessings upon their children, so also should we ask God for blessings and provision, provided that we are keeping Christ at the center of our prayers. To neglect to pray in this way not only starves the Christian of their rights of access as children of God, but it also insults God himself who has commanded us to pray, in this way, and who wants to bless his children. When we don't unload our cares and worries and ask God to provide for us, we deny his lordship in our lives, because whether we pray as such or not, he IS indeed the giver of every blessing, and without him we have nothing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Short Review of "Longing to Know" By Esther Lightcap Meek

A very unique and needed book in the realm of Christian Philosophy. The only other school of philosophers that I know of that take Philosophical questions normally only dealt with by secular philosophers are Plantinga/Wolterstorff & Co. I for one have a burning and mostly unmet need for resources of Christian Philosophers answering philosophical questions (such as epistemological ones) normally only dealt with by secular thinkers. Meek does a masterful job at clearly answering the questions–how can I know? How can I know God? Highly recommended to any theology student or Philosophy student who wants answers to philosophical questions from the Christian worldview. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Atheists Don’t Have No Poems (or, a Walking Contradiction)

This is a poem that I wrote for one of my classes at RBC a few years ago. Thought I would repost it here:

The atheist is a curious creature, A gluttonous beast, 
For he wants to be the keeper of a cake, and then on it to feast 
To fit a square peg in a round hole! 
They should try putting their consumed cake into a flat bowl! 
But soon they, though now quite blind will see, 
That having addictions to various fictions 
And in competition to imbibe contradictions 
Cannot have even a poem, and no deity. 
An atheist poet, though he may not know it, 
Makes many assumptions when assembling verse, 
Such as that “violets are blue” and “I love you” will always rhyme and the meaning won’t disperse. 
That beauty is beautiful, that a word like “meaning” has any meaning. 
But if beauty is also ugliness and meaning is meaningless, 
And if there is no truth then words don’t have to rhyme all of the time 
And if a person penning poems is nothing more than complicated animated slime 
Then matter in motion assembling meaningless words that only rhyme part-time 
Using paper and ink that came from nothing and then calling it a poem 
Is a contradiction. 
And just as contradictions don’t exist, neither does a poem in a Godless world. 
You may explain this 
To an atheist 
But he will just say as calm as can be 
That may be true for you… but it’s not true for me!