Friday, August 01, 2014

The Reason for the Biblical Urgency of Praying (Prayer Summer 2014)

Photo: Linda  and I with Payne Seminary student's.
Linda, with my Payne Seminary Spiritual Formation students
A conditional statement is an "if-then" statement. Such as: "If you clean your room, then I will take you to the movie."

Which means: On the condition of your room being cleaned by you, you will be taken to the movie by me. But if you do not clean your room (if that condition is not met) then I will not take you to the movie.

1. If you clean your room, then I will take you to the movie (given no other extenuating circumstances).
2. I did not take you to the movie (given no other extenuating circumstances; e.g., perhaps you did clean your room but an unexpected emergency prevented me from taking you to the movie).
3. Therefore, the condition of your room being clean was unmet.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is an if-then example of God giving a promise to help and heal if God's people humble themselves and pray. We read:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

In this case God desires to hear from heaven, forgive the sins of the people, and heal their land. But God will not do so if the condition is unmet. This means that our prayers can have causal power in bringing about the desires of God.

Greg Boyd writes: When God "decided to populate the creation with free agents, he gave each human various units of “say-so.” We each have a certain amount of power to affect what comes to pass by our choices." 

Greg explains:

  • God's main goal in creation was to invite persons (free agents) into relationship with him.
  • Relationships are all about communication.
  • "God set aside a vast reservoir of "say-so" that is accessed only by communicating with him."
  • "Because of how central this objective is for God, he covenanted with himself to release this "say-so" only if his people pray." 
  • There are a number of possible things God would like to do but will not do - "unless his people align their hearts with his in prayer." 
Greg writes: "This explains the incredible urgency Jesus and rest of the Bible attaches to prayer."

1. If my people humble themselves and pray, then I will forgive their sins and heal their land.
2. I have not forgiven their sins and healed their land (though I [God] desire to).
3. Therefore my people have not humbled themselves and prayed.