Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If Prayers Were Wishes

TEXT: Matt 18:19

“19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

     This verse along with others is often used resulting in two ends: 1) deception & 2) dismissal.

     Addressing the first, many, particularly charismatic preachers, use this verse to deceive believers into thinking that whatever they pray for, no matter what, as long as at least one other person prays for it with them, they will get it.  This is a wholly unscriptural approach to prayer, both in practice & expectation.  Firstly, one must note that all such promises (including Mk 11:23; Jn 14:13-14; 15:7; 16:24) are made explicitly to the apostles.  If one looks at the passage one will quickly see that Jesus is not addressing the multitude, but the small party of the 12 in all these cases.  It is a promise made exclusively to them, proof of which will be offered soon.  Secondly, all prayer is to be in accord with the Father's will (Luke 11:2).  Even Jesus could not pray His way out of the Father's will.  He prayed in the garden that the cup of the cross would pass from Him, but it did not.  The scriptural approach must be "thy will be done" (Luke 22:42).  Thus, God does answer all prayer.  We simply must be prepared for that answer to be, "No."

     If the interpretation of the charismatic's were true, no Christian would ever have died.  Certainly those that I have prayed with have had two or more praying for healing as have millions more through history.  If this passage were applicable to us, then these people including many members of my family & myself, would be alive & well.  The evidence of our eyes must prevail.  Given the two interpretations, the evidence of our eyes & history demonstrates the truth of only one ie this promise was exclusive to the apostles.

     Which is the refutation to the second use of this passage ie dismissal.  Many anti-Christian speakers & philosophers dismiss Christianity pointing to this as being a "lie" that Jesus spoke for no one has ever gotten everything for which they have prayed.  Again, the faith remains perfectly consistent & intact only if one sees this & similar promises as applying to the 12 exclusively.

     Nevertheless, we should not despair.  The purpose of this promise was to establish Christianity & make it triumphant in history; a purpose that was accomplished through the work of the apostles.  Christianity survived, thrived & has dominated western thought until modern times.  The Christian should feel joy in this fulfillment.  Just because we see this as not applying to us, we should realize we are all on the same grace as Jesus & the apostles ie the will of the Father.  Indeed, this is applicable to us if we see our prayer life from that perspective.

     Prayer is not about wish fulfillment.  Prayer is not about a laundry list of "I want"'s.  Bringing all our desires, all our wants into accordance with His will should be the fulfillment of the believers soul.  It is only in this way that a martyr can go to his/her fate; that a faithful servant can find his reward.

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