Hindered Prayer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 30, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here.]

What stops our prayers from being answered? What hinders our prayers? I am not talking about what keeps us from praying. I am talking about when we pray, what stops them? Throughout this series, I have been learning about how to pray, what kind of prayers to pray, and much more. This is the 11th post of this series and I am almost halfway done… for now. This week, I am going to introduce a mini-series on what hinders prayer.

First, we need to be praying God’s prayers. Praying our own prayers for our own purposes will not be productive nor answered. We need to pray the prayers that God places upon us. This post is about what happens when we pray the kinds of prayers that God wants us to pray, and they do not get answered.

Second, we need to understand the nature of prayer and the character of God. One of the greatest misunderstandings about prayer is that it acts like a formula or a process. Let me re-iterate. Prayer is not a process. It is not a method that you follow like an instruction manual where if you say this in this certain way then it will be answered. Prayer is about our relationship with God. Prayer is about bringing God’s will to earth into reality. God will answer the prayers he initiates. They WILL be answered. So if prayer is about bringing God’s will into reality and God always answers prayers, why are they stopped at times? The first question we have to ask: Is the problem with God or is the problem with us? Too often, if our prayers go unanswered, we assume the problem is with God. We must get this straight. If God’s prayers go unanswered, the problem lies with us.

I have often heard that prayer is like a circuit board. God is looking for “switches” (our prayers) to make the circuit complete. Does this mean we can stop God from accomplishing his will? Absolutely not. It just means we can remove ourselves from having a role in it. If we do not participate with God’s plan, he will find someone who will. In every circumstance except for the work on the cross, God found a man who would pray his prayers, who would speak his words. Even in that exception, Jesus, God in the flesh, did it as a man. Jesus could not do what he did as God. He was God, but he had to do it as a man. He taught us how prayer truly works.

Now what stops these prayers? Let me explore several issues in this post, then in the next two weeks, I will hit some specific ones. The first thing that hinders prayer is doubt. If we get the message from God that we need to pray for a specific thing or issue, do we pray with faith? Or do we doubt that God will come through? Often, when we pray “if it be your will…” it is with doubt because we do not have the confidence that what we are praying for is indeed God’s will. I am not talking about when we do not know it, but rather when we do know it and we still question it. Doubt is a very easy prayer killer.

Here is an example of how doubt affected an entire nation. In Numbers 13-14, Moses sent twelve spies to scout out Canaan. When they returned, ten of the twelve spies brought a bad report. They had doubt. They knew God promised them the land, but they did not believe that God would carry them through to the end. They thought the giants would wipe them out. Only Joshua and Caleb believed. Because of this doubt, God cursed them to wander the wilderness until every person of that generation age 20 and up, except Joshua and Caleb, died. Doubt is a very easy prayer-killer.

Another prayer-killer is quitting, and when we stop praying. Sometimes we do not see the results we would like to see in the time we see and we simply stop praying. There are times where I wonder if things I have sought never came because I stopped praying about it. In this whole series up to this point, praying with perseverance has been the big one. Even after my last few posts on this very topic, I am still struggling with praying and praying and praying until the answer comes. But this is not merely praying all night, even though that plays a big role in this concept. This is talking about praying day after day after day until the answer comes. Too often we give up too soon. But back to how Israel refused to enter the Promised Land. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram accused Moses of failing to bring the people to the Promised Land. It was not Moses nor God that prevented them from entering. It was their own doubt, their own quitting of believing God that kept them out. If you know what God wants you to be praying, do not stop until you know the answer has come.

Another cause of prayers not being answered is because there is a battle going on in the heavens. Daniel gives the great example of this. He saw a vision of a man and prayed immediately for an answer. But none came for three weeks. When it came, the angel revealed that he came with the answer immediately but was delayed by the Prince of Persia. Sometimes our prayers are hindered because the enemy is fighting to keep it from being answered. This is why praying with perseverance is so important. Sometimes prayer is a war, and that is another topic I will address in a couple months. We may need to pray in spiritual battle to see our prayers through to fruition.

Allow me to hit a few other quick points that I learned from Eric Ludy in his sermon Praying Through. Sometimes, our prayers are not answered because we simply miss the mark. Like in archery if we miss the target, this is when our prayers are not aligned with God’s will. Sometimes we pray for selfish reasons. Sometimes we waiver in our prayers. We are only half-hearted in it. Sometimes we pray and we are living in disobedience. How can we expect God to answer our prayers if we are living contrary to his will? If we are living in sin, God has no obligation to answer anything we pray. Just ask Saul. Sometimes God will not answer our prayers because we are dishonoring to the authorities God has placed over us. Jesus understood the importance of authority. So did the Roman Centurion. If we disrespect our parents, bosses, administrators, and even our government (the position, regardless of who is in it), it very well reflects our respect of God’s position of authority. Why should he honor our prayer requests if we are fighting against the very principle that makes our prayers work? The last thing Ludy mentions is a lack of abiding in Christ. We have got to live in Christ and his will. When we do that, our prayers will find their answers.

Joshua had a prayer go unanswered. He had just conquered Jericho and was going against the tiny town of Ai. He was beat soundly. Joshua begged God to reveal why he failed them, and God said: “You have sin in the camp.” Achan had disobeyed God by taking some spoils from Jericho, and it cost Israel a battle. Sometimes it is someone else’s sin that is hindering our prayers. Sometimes it is someone we are associated with who is hindering our prayers. Joshua found Achan and had him executed. If someone we are associated with is sinning and causing God to curse us because of that, we need to cut off that relationship. Jehoshaphat was a righteous man, but God got on his case twice for allying himself with wicked men. Sometimes our allies will hinder our prayers. Be careful who you unite with.

There are two other major things that hinder prayer and they deserve a separate post. Next week I will address the fickle prayer and the selfish prayer.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Conversation with an Atheist - Founded on Faith, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 29, 2016 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we touched on a few things the Founders had to say about Christianity in the new republic (yes, we live in a republic which is not the same as a democracy). This was in response to some things an atheist friend of mine had to say about this nation's heritage and how Christianity fits (or doesn't fit) into it. Last week was a sort of warm up to this week's blog post which should make the obviousness of the truth extremely clear. The question I hope to answer today: did the Founders create for us a Christian nation or was it entirely to be a secular state?

At first, it seems easy to answer this, right? Of course the Founders meant for the nation to have nothing to do with religion. That's why we have the Bill of Rights, which says we can all practice our religion as we see fit. I agree we do have the rights outlined in the Constitution that tell us we can express ourselves in terms of our faith as we like. According to some, this is precisely because the Founders were Christians (most of them). 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held seminary or Bible degrees. In fact, of the 250 or so commonly referred to as “Founders” of our great nation, not a single one could be labeled a secularist. They all believed in God to one degree or another. Some were very strong in their faith, while others were more skeptical or had differing views on some of the tenets of Christianity. But all, without exception, were religious men. Many were devout Christians who held their faith as the most important and most defining characteristic of who they were. Does it make sense that these men, who held their Savior so close to their hearts, would intend to make a nation that was free FROM religion? Of course not. This is precisely why we have freedom OF religion. This means the government cannot force a religious belief on you or make you adhere to the “state religion.” It's because of the faith of our Founders that they saw fit to write into our Constitution this God-given freedom.

My contention is that the Founders knew the importance in Christianity in governing and in maintaining a moral society. There is no doubt of this when you read their words. This nation was founded on Christian principles by predominantly Christian men to govern a Christian people. John Adams said, “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” Concerning the need for Christianity in maintaining society, George Washington said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” He believed that without Christianity (the religious principles he referenced), morality would decay. We see this today in our society as we become more secularized.

The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, would probably be an authority on the nature of our nation's founding. He said, “Providence has been given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” As I discussed last week, this doesn't mean the system of government we have prefers Christians to non-Christians. It does mean that Americans can choose whom they desire to be in office. That's a completely different idea than suggesting the government favors Christians.

Another Founder, Daniel Webster, remarked, “The Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society.” Does this sound like, perhaps, we are a Christian nation founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a Christian people? It does to me, but you decide. Noah Webster (no relation to Daniel) confirms this by saying, “No truth is more evident than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” And, “I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.” These men seem to think that Christianity was the backbone of our system of government and that any government not based on the principles of Christianity could never ensure the freedom of its people.

Last week I mentioned Justice David Brewer as he explained the nature of what is meant by our nation being a Christian nation. He wrote the opinion during the famous Church of the Holy Trinity vs US case where the Supreme Court of the United States said, “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” Here we have the highest court in the land making a very clear statement about our nation's connection to Christianity. What about Congress? In 1854 Congress declared, “In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity... That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.” They further said, “The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” They seemed to believe in the great importance of Christianity to our Founders, to our founding, and to the continued existence of the nation. So I've quoted all branches of the US system of government—various presidents and secretaries, Congress, and the Supreme Court as well as Justices of that Court—all declaring clearly that this nation is, indeed, a Christian nation. Who would know better than those who founded it, or were very close in time to those that founded it? People sometimes contest that these sayings really mean what they, to me, seem to obviously say. To those people I like to bring up a few interesting actions (since actions speak louder than words, you know) that our Founders and our government participated in.

Last week I mentioned that George Washington told the Delaware Indians that they would greatly benefit from adopting our Christian faith. He also said, “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” Our Founders held education as a very important aspect of our society. Education went hand in hand with Christianity. In fact, the government sponsored a couple different things that are related to Christianity and education. Numerous laws were passed during the Jefferson administration which had as their goal the Christianization of the Indians. Rather than cite the numerous examples, it should suffice to say that several instances of government money going to build churches, pay clergy, print Bibles, and instruct the Native Americans in the ways of Christianity can easily be found simply by doing research if one desires the details. The government sent missionaries to the Native Americans. Congress also stated, “The Congress desire to have a Bible printed under their care and by their encouragement.” They needed Bibles printed because there was a shortage of them due to the War and the inability for outside sources to ship them to us. It was recommended that the United States print their own Bible, to which Congress agreed. It's contested whether or not the Bibles were actually printed but it makes no difference. They intended to print them or buy them for the army, which General Washington welcomed, and for the Indians for their education in Christianity. Because of this, historian W. P. Strickland exclaimed in 1849, “Who will charge the government with indifference to religion when the first Congress of the states assumed all the rights and performed all the duties of a Bible Society long before such an institution had an existence in the world!”

The Capitol building is also a place of interest here. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the Capital building to be used as a church. Thomas Jefferson was the president of the Senate at the time and gave his approval (he was the vice president of the U.S., if you're unclear as to who the president of the Senate is). He gave permission for this while vice president, but he had actually already won election to the presidency and was awaiting his inauguration. Many, if not most, of the government officials who were in town on any given Sunday were expected to be in attendance.

How could a government that today is seen as almost antagonistic or in opposition to religion be so firmly and blatantly for Christianity, its service, its meetings, and its education? It seems so obvious, in my opinion, that the Founders never intended to remove Christ from this land or from the government. In fact, many of them insist that Jesus Christ was the basis by which we gained our freedom and formed our own nation. The Declaration of Independence confirms this, as does Thomas Jefferson when he said, “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?” You can easily see as our nation has less faith in Christ it slips further and further into chaos, lawlessness, and depravity. Just look around! We forget where our rights come from, so we allow the government to strip them from us one at a time. For me, when I hear things similar to what this atheist told me, it makes me sad to think we've come so far from our roots and we've been victims of revisionism so much so that we have no idea any longer who we are, where we've come from, or what really matters. God have mercy on us.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


A Little Time Off

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” ~3 John 13-14

I don’t know how many people at this point are aware of this, but my wife and I are expecting our second child to arrive with a tentative due date of December 5, 2016. We plan to name him Caleb Carter Seng, and we are really excited to do the whole new parent thing all over again. We have grown quite a bit since the birth of our first son, Jaden William Seng, but we have also learned that there is much to prepare for and certain things that need to be attended to before the baby is born.

One of the things that I have taken upon myself is a second job. Currently, I have essentially been working, well, a lot. I have been putting in a lot of hours, which has resulted in me having to be away from my family more than I would prefer right now. Ever since I made this decision to take a second job I decided that I was going to stick it out as long as I could in providing a weekly blog post for the Worldview Warriors ministry. But lately, the late nights and physical nature of my second job have been wearing me out too much to be able to give to my family the emotional, psychological, and spiritual support they need in preparation for this new addition to our family. Thus, I have determined that I will be taking a leave from blog post writing for a span of time so that I can be the whole-hearted spiritual leader of my household.

It has been a huge blessing being a blog writer for Worldview Warriors. It has challenged me and caused me to grow in ways I would not have imagined.

I believe I started writing blog posts in 2013, pending the release of my first book, The World That Then Was. At that time, my posts were based on Creationism, the existence of God, and the evidence for Jesus Christ. Back then, I tried to answer every single question that was thrown my way with as much detail as I could, lest I forget something and get ambushed with more skepticism. Those days were fun, exciting, and frustrating; wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone thought the same way about everything?

It was in 2015 that we started working through books of the Bible as a group in Worldview Warriors. Even though I have noticed that the interest in my posts have not been as high as what they used to be, working our way through these books has been a lot of fun. If you could only sit in on one of our blogger meetings to hear the discussions we have about the various angles and opinions on each passage of Scripture we write on! One of the things I wish everyone who reads these blog posts could know is what a wonderful bunch of people are contributing to this ministry, of which I am the least. I would give them all kudos right now, but it would take too long, so I will just list them out and give a blanket statement about what I think of them.

Jason DeZurik, Katie Erickson, Logan Ames, Charlie Wolcott, Nathan Buck, Ami Samuels, and Steve Risner are some of the best people you are ever going to meet. They love Jesus, have a heart for people, and have the humility to admit when they are wrong and the boldness to tell you when you are wrong. If only I had the integrity and strength of resolve as the least of these Jesus freaks… well, I honestly don’t know how to finish that statement, but it would be awesome.

What I look forward to now, in terms of Worldview Warriors, is the upcoming event Rooted and Established. During this time off I will be solidifying what I will say at this event so that I can give those who attend my workshops their money’s worth. I’m going to give you a taste of my book 10 Irrefutable Proofs of Creation, a look at how bad theology leads to a bad worldview, provide clarity on why dinosaurs and the Bible matter, and what Satan’s fall means for us.

I cited the Apostle John from his third letter at the top of this post because I think that is the heart of all of the Worldview Warriors team; not just that we could write to you, but that we could meet you face to face and discuss these things with you so that you might experience how much God loves you and we love you in the most understandable way possible. If you can, come to Rooted and Established in Marion, Ohio on November 11th and 12th, not only for our gratification that you came, but also for your own spiritual growth. It will be wonderful reconnecting there and maybe even getting to know some of our faithful followers. Thank you for your support. It is both humbling and a pleasure sharing in the ministry of the Gospel with all of you!

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Judges 9:1-21

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 26, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Today’s passage of Judges 9:1-21 is a long one, but I encourage you to read it here before continuing on with this post.

The story in this passage revolves around Abimelech, who as we saw last week was one of Gideon’s 70 sons from his various wives and concubines. Abimelech was born of a concubine (who is lesser status than a wife) who still lived under her father’s household in Shechem. Interestingly, Abimelech’s name literally means “my father is king” (in Hebrew, “ab” means father, the “i” means my, and “melech” means king). Gideon was not the king, although the people wanted him to be after his victory over the Midianites. Perhaps Abimelech’s mother the concubine wanted to honor Gideon by naming their son Abimelech; we don’t have that detail recorded in Scripture.

Abimelech had 69 half brothers, and he was likely shunned by many of them because his mother was a lowly concubine, not even a full-fledged wife. He appeals to his brothers to get more prestige and recognition from them. Abimelech makes the logical argument that it’d be better for one man to rule over the people instead of 70. I’ve been involved in projects with multiple leaders, and I can agree that such a situation never works out well. Abimelech appeals to the people of Shechem to make him their leader. The city of Shechem was on an important trade route, so it was a prominent city in the region. It was founded by the Canaanites, and it’s likely that the people maintained a link with them.

Abimelech is worried that the people will choose another of his brothers instead of him, so he gets rid of the competition. He hires people to kill all of his half brothers except for the youngest, Jotham (verse 5). The people of Shechem apparently don’t care that Abimelech is essentially a murderer, so they make him their king (verse 6)!

Jotham knows Abimelech’s true character, so he’s compelled to warn the people about the person they just put in charge. He uses a fable to explain Abimelech’s true character. This is the same literary technique that Jesus uses with His parables in the Gospels.

In Jotham’s fable (verses 8-15), he uses the imagery of trees and plants. First the trees want the olive tree to be king. It was a very valuable tree, with its oil being used for lamps and its olives for food and medicine. But the olive tree had important functions, so it declined to be king. Next the fig tree was nominated. Figs were a key crop, however, so it too declined. Third, the grape vine was suggested. But its vines are good for wine, so the vine also declines being king. Finally there’s the thorn bush. It’s really not good for anything, so since it’s not doing anything, it might as well be king, right?

Even though Jotham’s point seems pretty clear, in verses 16-20 he provides an explanation. Gideon was the olive tree, and Abimelech is the thorn bush. It’s not wise to make someone your king just because they have the time and motivation to do it; they should really be a qualified leader. But since the people seemed to like Abimelech, after calling them out like this, Jotham fled the area.

So how does this apply to us? Here in the United States, the election drama is heating up. We are preparing to choose a new leader for our country. Who is an olive tree? Who is a thorn bush? Take a look at the political candidates and pray about who God would have lead this country of ours for the next 4 years.

This also applies in the non-political realms of our lives. Everyone is a leader in some way, whether you have an official leadership title and position or not. You may be a leader in your household. You may be a leader for your friends at school. You may be a leader to a younger sibling. We are all leading someone, so what kind of leader are you? Are you cruel and ruthless like Abimelech, or are you following God’s ways and imitating Him in your leadership?

Examine your life and the leaders in it, and pray to God to help you make wise choices.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 24, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I was reminded recently that the pursuit, and even the desire to leave a legacy, is vanity. Now, I am sure that someone will take issue with that and argue with me that there are ways to leave a noble legacy of doing good, and I would agree. The issue is that our desire for and to leave a legacy is about US, no matter who or what we leave that legacy for.

The futility of 'legacy' is that it only lasts as long as the memories of people who knew us. And the farther from us each person is, the more unclear or even warped the legacy becomes. Milton S. Hershey is a great example. He started the Hershey Chocolate Company, from which we have the Hershey Bar, Hershey Kisses, and a host of other candies. His legacy is still in effect, particularly the Hershey Trust, which benefits from product sales, and is a benefit to orphans, single parents, and low income/special situation students. Eligible students are able to go to school, live on campus, and have all their basic needs provided for them through the trust, so they can focus on their education. Many are able to pursue their dreams and become good citizens and contributors to society when they graduate. But are the company, the trust, and the school still making decisions the way Milton would have?

It's safe to say they are not, because they are addressing questions and issues he never had to, and they are taking the business in directions he may never had intended to. Legacy only lasts as long as it is convenient and relevant and then it is cast aside; out of sight, out of mind.

In Judges 8:29-35, the same thing happens to Gideon. As soon as he dies, people go back to worshipping the false god of fertility, Baal. The writer of Judges indicates this is Baal-Berith, which means 'Baal of covenant.' Jewish historians believe this is clearly the same Baal nicknamed ‘lord of the flies,’ but the word 'berith' or 'covenant' may point to the practice of carrying around a small idol and pulling it out and kissing it throughout the day. Think of it in terms of a lucky rabbit's foot kind of idol. As soon as Gideon was in the ground, there began this practice of carrying lucky charms around, superstitiously holding them and kissing them.

What lasting impact had Gideon had? What was his legacy? It’s almost like this passage screams, "Who cares!"

It wasn't about Gideon or his legacy; it was about Gideon being faithful, helping Israel follow God and get free from the oppression and corruption of Midian. That mission was accomplished, and the land enjoyed 40 years of peace because of it.

  This passage celebrates Gideon's faithfulness, and then like an 'Easter egg' in a movie plot it also shows us there is already a sequel story in the works. Even though Gideon had freed Israel from Midian, Israel had not let go of the superstitions they learned. As quickly as a young child might do what they shouldn’t when a parent turns around, Israel returns to Baal worship when Gideon is no longer there as God's leader.

For me this passage begs the question, where are the leaders Gideon trained up during his time? Did he train anyone up? Who was there to carry on the faithful example of following God after Gideon died?

See, legacy alone has little lasting influence. It is the people who are raised up and trained that carry on the mission beyond our individual time on earth. What I accomplish in my time is for my time, and my part will end when I am done. But who is being unleashed to live their potential and be committed to God's course for them? Who is carrying on the next part of God's mission after we are gone?

Do we recognize that this is NOT just a leadership issue? It's a faith issue for every single person, because each of us can contribute to God's purposes or distract from them by worshipping lesser things. And we worship what gets the most of our attention.

So, I share all that to say, don't be discouraged by whether people carry on your example or not. Don't be the kind of person who tries to get away with things because some authority figure isn't looking. And stop with the superstitious stuff about appeasing spirits or God, or anyone - just stop, because superstition is a waste of time.

Get your eyes off of your own legacy and just do what God has called you to do. Equip and empower those around you to live out their calling and mission. Focus on letting God be seen through you, and trust God to lead others for their part of the journey.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Praying With Vain Repetition

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 23, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

One aspect of praying that God despises is vain repetition. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah set up a massive showdown on Mt Carmel between the prophets of Baal and himself alone. The prophets of Baal shouted out their prayers of many words, did their rituals, cut themselves, and nothing happened. Elijah mocked them throughout the day and then finally said a very simple, basic prayer, and God showed up with fire. Jesus told us not to pray as the heathen with their many words, as though that would impress God.

How often do our prayers have many words but have no real substance? How many times do we think we are praying with persistence but in reality are just praying with vain repetition? Allow me to explain what this looks like. My pastor, when driving for a school, had a vehicle that was on its last legs. He described how he would rub the dashboard saying, “Lord, please run, please run.” One day, God told him to just stop; it was praying with vain repetition.

I can certainly relate. One of my pet peeves is being late, particularly if something should be in place and is not. It does not take me long to lose my peace and get antsy if I am waiting for something to come in and the deadline is fast approaching. I find myself praying: “Please come in. Please come in.”

Here is a big one that I am very guilty of. How often do we pray for our meals or for our meetings or before bed and we just say a prayer by rote? How many of our prayers are just a mantra and not any actual communication with God? I have to admit, I am convicting myself as I write this.

Why do we do this? There are several reasons. One is impatience. We want it settled right now so we can have peace entering the situation. Another one, which is more often the case, is lack of trust in God to take care of it. Often, we believe God did not hear us so we keep saying the same thing over and over again, as though we are reminding God that we are still here. We know God is the only one who can take care of it, but if we do not see the results in the timing we like, we get frustrated with God for not coming through.

If the fault here in God, or is it in us? Is God unable to deliver, or do we have issues with God’s delivery method? God has no obligation to answer prayers of doubt and he has no obligation to move any faster if we try to rush him. To quote Miracle Max from The Princess Bride: “If you rush a Miracle Man, you get rotten miracles.” Did God not say he would do it? Do we not believe that he cannot lie, nor will he shrink back on his promises?

I have been talking about persistence in prayer the last couple weeks. This is not persistence. We must distinguish between vain repetition and persistence. Vain repetition is when we really don’t believe God to deliver and think the power is in our words. Persistence is when you go at it with God and do not let go until it is done. Very often, vain repetition is used on trivial issues like waiting for a package to come in, or a vehicle to work, or someone to hurry up. Persistence is used when there is a great need and you will not take “no” for an answer.

Related to this is knowing when to stop praying. I have been reading through Rees Howells: Intercessor and he understood the notion of praying of persistence. He would pray for days or weeks or even months at a time for what he was dealing with. But one thing stood out: the moment he got the answer, the moment he gained the position of intercession (which I will talk about several posts from now), he stopped praying. He would say something like: “God gave the answer. The connection has been made. It is finished.”

How do we know when to persist and when to call it? First we need to know what God’s will is on the given situation. Many times, we know God’s will more than we would like to admit. It will always be in line with what is in Scripture. Do we know Scripture? Do we know what God says through it? When a verse jumps out at you, that is typically God telling you to pay attention to it. If you authentically do not know what God has said about this situation, then you need to persist to find out. Sometimes God may not tell you anything other than to be patient and wait. Other times he will tell you precisely what will happen or what you need to do.

If you get the word about what God will do, pray and pray and pray that it will be done until you get that confirmation that it will happen. Elijah on Mt. Carmel is a prime example. He already knew God’s will to bring rain after revealing himself. But he had to pray and pray and pray until it came. He stopped the moment the cloud was seen. It hadn’t started raining yet, but the job was done. The rain was coming. He did not need to pray one more time.

Elijah’s prayer was repeated seven time, but it was not in vain repetition. He was not praying with doubt, with impatience, or generic hope. He knew precisely what needed to happen and he prayed with confidence that it would be answered, and he kept praying until it was done. And when it was done, even though it was not raining yet, he stopped and outran Ahab’s chariot in coming down from the mountain.

Why do we need to persist in prayer? Why can’t we simply say the prayer and leave it? There are times where we do that, but there is no real faith mixed into the prayer. Faith requires action and is that absolute confidence that it will take place. Paul Washer describes a time he was talking with a girl to be saved, and told her to cry out to God that he would save her. She came the next day distraught because nothing happened. Washer then told her to go home and continue crying out to God until he saves her or stop praying and go to hell. The next night, God saved her. That is persistence. You know what you need and go you after God until it happens.

But there is another reason for persistence: our prayers have been hindered. Many times people wonder why water from a river does not come. They think the river has dried up, but in reality, all that kept it from coming was a blockage. Next week, we will examine several things that hinder our prayers. Not things that keep us from praying, but reasons why our prayers are not answered.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Conversation with an Atheist - Founded on Faith, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 22, 2016 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Do we live in a Christian nation? Do we live in a Christian state? What's the difference, if any? Is the US partial to Christians? Does it offer rights and privileges to Christians that it does not offer to others? These are questions I hope to help you ponder today as we begin a look at our heritage and what the basis for our freedom is—at least according to our Founding Fathers. This blog post was sparked by a conversation I had with an atheist who I quoted in my last blog post as saying, “... the American system is stacked a little unfairly toward the New Testament crowd.” Pay close attention to the fact that he said the “system” not the people. Further into the conversation I will get into how he actually believes we are not a Christian nation at all. It seems he would like it both ways here, saying we get special favors being Christians yet we are not a Christian nation and it matters little what the foundation of the Constitution is (the Declaration of Independence is what he's getting at there) or what the basis for our legal system is (the Christian Bible is what he's getting at there). Obviously, these things are absolutely not true. The basis or foundation of anything is important in understanding that thing, isn't it? What something is built on is crucial for understanding its intent and meaning, in my opinion. So we'll take a short look at that today, although volumes of books could be and have been written on the subject.

I've very frequently gotten into this discussion with people over the years. In fact, I wrote about this topic in high school and had a special speaker come into my class and speak on it. That was over 20 years ago. My contention in these discussions is always that the United States of America is a Christian nation. What does this mean? That's the kicker. On occasion, the person I'm chatting with will interpret this to mean we are a Christian state—that the government is Christian in nature and the official religion of the country is documented as Christian. This is obviously not true, but people want to argue with me about it, believing this is what I am saying. No. What I am saying is this nation was founded by Christians on Christian principles to govern a Christian people. My friend who I have been quoting in this series says that the foundational beliefs of the Founders and the basis on which the documents that founded our nation were based doesn't matter at all. This is strange to me. Why?

Let's take a short look at the Declaration of Independence which is the actual document in question. The Constitution is NOT the document that founded the nation but is merely the document that establishes our laws and system of government. Our nation was founded the day we stood up and told Great Britain we were sovereign and no longer were under their authority. We did that by writing and signing the Declaration of Independence. The entire premise of that document can be summed up with my paraphrase:
God gives all men rights. Your actions (they gave a list of examples) are attempting to take those rights from us. As a result, we are no longer under your authority but under our own as given by God.

Did you catch that? The entire idea rests on the fact that God gives all men rights. All of us are “precious in His sight” to quote the Sunday school song. If one people group decides to discard the rights afforded to all people by mistreating another group, they are violating God's order in my opinion.

So back to my original stance: We are a Christian nation because we were founded by Christians on Christian principles to govern Christian people. It's because we are a Christian nation that we welcome and respect other faiths to be exercised in this great land. There are many examples of places where you cannot practice your faith freely. Many Muslim nations and communist countries or dictatorships do not allow the free practice of religion. There are other examples as well, but the point is it's because of our Christian heritage that we all can worship as we see fit. This is not the same as saying all religions are equal or true. That's another topic we can get into later. But suffice it to say, that is clearly not what the Founders believed nor is it how reality appears to me.

I'll quote David Josiah Brewer, a Supreme Court Justice in the late 1800's, to explain what I'm saying: “...in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that people are in any matter compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Neither is it Christian in the sense that all of its citizens are either in fact or name Christian. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian Nation--in fact, as the leading Christian Nation of the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has substantial basis--one which justifies its use.”

This is in contrast to my friend's belief that Christians get special privileges here in the States. It may be that the people more often support a Christian, sure. That's because many of us are Christians and we have a common belief with the individual. This, in no way, means the “system” shows favoritism. It clearly does not. My atheist friend says, “It is hard to run for public office if you do not profess your love for Jesus Christ.” If this is true, it's because the voters want someone they trust and believe in who shares their values. It has nothing to do with the US government showing special privileges to Christians. If anything, his point supports mine—that we are a Christian nation. We want to be led by men and women who share our faith. That's not favoritism on the part of the state. It's the way we as citizens vote.

I believe my friend decided arbitrarily that the basis for our nation's founding and the concepts employed to develop our government are not useful for determining if we are a Christian nation or not, because the fact that if he accepts either of these things—the beliefs of the Founders, the basis for the Declaration of Independence being written, or the principles used to construct our system of government—then he must admit he's wrong. The case is fairly open and shut. Let's take a peek at a few of the Founders to see what they say on the matter.

Patrick Henry, the man famous for saying, “Give me liberty or give me death,” has a lot of other great things to say. Henry was a general during the Revolutionary War. He served as the governor of Virginia twice, was a legislator, and ratified the US Constitution. He said, “Whether this [the American War for Independence] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.” This statement was based on Proverbs 14:34. It seems rather clear he believed the foundation of life and happiness and, therefore, our nation was based on the worship of our Creator.

George Washington, our first president, Commander-in-Chief during the Revolutionary War, president of the Constitutional Convention, and a judge said, "It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being." Do we think that this great man would say such a thing only to do the opposite? Washington is also quoted as saying, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Some say he never said this, but it's similar point is found in so many other of his sayings that it seems he may have. If nothing else, it's nearly a paraphrase of the previous quote. He even said, in 1779 to the chiefs of the Delaware Indians, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are… Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.” He was certainly not a multiculturalist as most separationists were. He and the other Founders believed that converting people to Christianity and assimilating them into our culture was a virtuous task; a far cry from what the government stands for these days.

There is much more to say on this and I've just scratched the surface. Next week, I will reveal a few more things the Founders had to say but even more importantly what they did that confirms we are most certainly a Christian nation founded by Christians on Christian principles to govern Christian people. Thank you for reading and God bless America.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.