The three articles which appear in this issue on “Preaching the Gospel,” highlight the value of prayer in effective gospel testimony. While no substitute for hard work, visitation, contacts and clear, powerful gospel preaching, these activities must be bathed in prayer if they are to eventuate in conversion to God.
Prayer has been a mystery to the minds of men. Modern man rejects it unconditionally as an exercise in futility. Others are condescendingly accepting of it as a psychological catharsis, a means by which a person can unburden himself. Little wonder that our age has become known as the “feel good” age. “As long as it makes a person feel good about himself, don’t object.” How tolerant!
Even theologians have struggled with the concept of prayer, often to their own loss and the muddying of the waters. They postulate either a God Who is limited in His knowledge of the future, or a God who changes in response to our prayers. Their God is not immutable. All this is the result of trying to reconcile a God who is sovereign, omniscient and omnipotent, with the human responsibility of prayer.
This editorial will nor be an attempt to explain the “seeming” paradox. It only exists within our limited minds. It was C.S. Lewis who said, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliation’s between our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.” God, who can ordain ends, can also ordain means to those ends. He has given us the rich privilege, by prayer, of participating with Him is His great work. Do we need to “understand” how prayer works? Have our minds with their limited intelligence, become the standard for ultimate truth?
Attempts to reconcile God’s sovereignty with our prayer life are fated for unscriptural extremes and danger. This does not advocate or endorse a “mindless” type of Christianity. It does underline the need for a recognition of the limitation of human wisdom. Who among us has ever gotten past the wonder of the very first line of our Bibles, “In the beginning God…?” We have no earthly frame of reference to understand even the timeless expanse of eternity in which God has been housed. If we cannot understand the essence of deity, how then can we begin to understand His expressions and counsels? In an attempt to “understand” God, let us not create a god in our own image.
The examples and calls to prayer in the Word of God should drive us to our knees with a deep appreciation for the privilege of speaking to our God an Fathers, and with a thrill at the possibility of being, through prayer, a part of the great work which God is doing in our age. Commands and exhortations concerning prayer about in the Word of God. Let us then pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers (Matt 9:38); let us pray in every assembly as directed by Paul (1 Tim 2:8); let us pray for open doors (Col 4:3) and that the servants of the Lord may speak with all boldness (Eph 6:19) and that sinners will be saved (2 Thes 3:1).