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Posted by Gregory Koukl on September 30, 2013 at 06:47 AM in :Greg Koukl, Theology, Video | Permalink
The purpose of prayer is to develop our relationship with God. God gives us needs so that we will come to him to fulfill those needs. Our trust is not necessarily for those needs to be fulfilled in the way that we would wish for them to be fulfilled, but that we would accept however God fulfills those needs, even if the answer is temporarily uncomfortable. That's relational development that goes far beyond simply wishing for our needs to be met in a specific way.
So our needs, whatever they may be, are blessings that allow us to practice our faith in prayer as we turn to the only One who can truly meet those needs. So we can give thanks to God both for our needs as well as the way he meets those needs. That includes being able to talk to him directly with Christ only as an intermediary and by the power of the Holy Spirit as we exercise his influence in our inclinations.
Jim Pemberton |
September 30, 2013 at 09:06 AM
Thank you this well reasoned answer!
Small Farmer in Frisco |
September 30, 2013 at 09:21 AM
I'm going to give the credit to God even when it looks like a coincidence.
Talk about well reasoned!
September 30, 2013 at 02:18 PM
I've heard this comment by atheists before. It is extremely disrespectful. Of course an atheist doesn't believe in prayer. They don't believe God exists. This is an incredible insult to my intelligence when someone says asks me this. Would I be praying if I believed God was not there to answer my prayers? I pray because I don't think it's wishful thinking. I think someone is there listening intently to what I say. It's basically just clever sophistry to try to make theists look stupid, without actually saying anything relevant or of value. When an atheist says this, all the atheist is really saying is that they are an atheist. How clever.
Jared Berryman |
September 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Prayer doesn’t have to be a request - just to note. Especially in the way we typically view requests.
And just to note, a coincidence, isn’t by definition, devoid of God. It’s quite silly to have to point this out, but sometimes we’re forced to do silly things. I’m not criticizing Greg’s implicature, just the jab that followed.
co•in•ci•dence - a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
Wow. Sometimes things aren’t apparent to us.
September 30, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Maybe this can be compared to a theist telling an atheist: You just hate God! Each group projects their state of mind on the other. Each group is annoyed to be in the receiving end. Sometimes maybe no disrespect is intended on either end.
Referring to the challenge, the Jared asks
Would I be praying if I believed God was not there to answer my prayers?
But then I am wondering: All of you doubt, right? I have heard many times that 'everyone doubts'. So when y'all are doubting, do you pray?
And if you do pray when you doubt, isn't that headed toward wishful thinking?
Is wishful thinking really a problem? Or is the problem confusing wishful thinking with belief?
Can doubt be prayed away? Are there other remedies? Will it go away on its own? What if you get a very long lasting case of extreme doubt?
Do you think this 'sophistry' is clever or not? You seem to go both ways.
September 30, 2013 at 06:42 PM
The OP is 'not willing to give coincidence the benefit of a doubt'.
He gives the credit to God instead.
In this case, coincidence is a rejected alternative - 'devoid' of God.
September 30, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Hi RonH, the gap is filled by faith. A faith that is alien to the flesh and eventually ought to overcome and dispel doubts as a Christian matures to the point where it is
more reasonable to believe God and what He's said than what we are experiencing at any given time.
The value of faith in God is not based on mans feelings or understanding at a particular time, it is the object that sets the value, Faith is dependant on the Person that faith is placed in. Men are often faithless, by God remains faithful so even if one loses confidence that prayer is effective, this doesn't change the fact that God says to pray and for men to obey and that He hears.
Brad B |
September 30, 2013 at 08:34 PM
The OP considers a case that 'looks like a coincidence' as opposed to other times when 'that couldn't possibly be coincidence'.
It looks like he credits God with the case that looks like a coincidence because he wants to.
October 01, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Ron, my answer was meant to be sarcastic. I don't think it's clever to say that. I think it's silly. You really don't understand the concept of faith or belief according to a Christian. When we say doubt, or the Bible mentions doubt, it is not referring to the existence of God. Atheism has only existed a few centuries (although Epicureans existed, which is similar), and thus the Bible never makes reference to atheism. Rather, doubt refers to the uncertainty of one's future, and whether or not God will be able to carry through with his promises, provide, etc. Praying helps to dispel doubt about the future. Personally, I no longer doubt God's existence in any sort of meaningful way. So in answer to your question, yes we all doubt, but no we do not all doubt God's existence.
If someone who is a Christian actually doubts that God exists, then that person seriously lacks Christian maturity. It's a fairly fundamental Christian concept. I am not talking about, if I have some question about some aspect of God or the Christian worldview, or if I surmise for a moment that God does not exist to examine an argument, or if I have a question about some detail. I'm talking about fundamental worldview questions. However, in that setting, if the person felt that way, and they prayed, it's still not wishful thinking. That person is trying to puzzle out their belief/paradigm. In order to call that wishful thinking, you must presuppose that atheism is correct. But that person hasn't decided yet; they are still holding on to their paradigm. So even saying that to a person who is struggling with their worldview is disrespectful, because you are jumping the gun. Some people who are having this struggle quit praying, while some people don't, or perhaps praying on rare occasions. It can turn out either way in all three cases.
I wouldn't say to an atheist that they hate God, because an atheist doesn't believe in God. How could an atheist hate something they don't believe in? The only way I would say something like that is if the atheist only had emotional reasons for their atheism (and I have met people like this!), or had a fanatical hatred for the concept of God or Christians. I think atheism is wishful thinking, but of course, I would not tell that to an atheist, because they believe their view to be correct.
But how about you? I know you don't believe in God. But have you ever asked? Pray like this: "God, if you exist, then reveal yourself to me. I don't believe you exist. Show me." Note that if you are correct and atheism is the correct view, this would, in fact, be wishful thinking. But so what? Pray this once with an open mind, and stay open. See what happens over the coming months and years. No one has to know. You only need to pray this once. If nothing is there, nothing will ever happen, so what harm would be done? This is not brainwashing, it's a harmless question. It might be wishful thinking on your part (according to you), but wishful thinking is not always harmful. If you wish something were true, it does not make it so and does not mean that you believe it. You should try it.
October 01, 2013 at 06:01 AM
The run of posts seem to seek a correlation between "answered prayer" and "coincidence". My question would be how many coincidences have to be encountered and met before we realize something is up.
Also, in the matter of "unanswered prayer," we have the incident of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12). Three prayers. Three nos. But an overwhelming sense that God's answers to prayer is not strict compliance with a given request. It is sometimes like a game of bingo. After a few calls you see victory in one square to be filled, say B-2. You hope for B-2, chant "B-2, come on B-2" in your head. You play on, filling other squares as they are called. Then you win with some other square. God knows needs, supplies in wisdom, beyond what we can ask or imagine.
What science can't explain may still work.
October 01, 2013 at 07:37 AM
If you’re just looking to score points against the OP, then by all means have at it.
The OP, as I suggested, is using coincidence to mean “it looks like God may not have done anything here”. Many things appear this way to many (including Christians), for many reasons.
Greg said, “When I stop praying the coincidences stop happening.” Though subtle, he’s making a distinction about the word coincidence. I wouldn’t use that term here, just to be clear – and I’m not necessarily defending that terminology. What I am doing, is responding to your sarcastic response to the OP.
1) I prayed for the cancer to go away and it did. It appeared the cancer just went away on its own (appearance of, what Greg is calling, coincidence).
2) I prayed for the cancer to go away, the cancerous body part started glowing, the MRI machine blew up, and the cancer went away. (appearance of the miraculous)
My point (not the OP's) was that #1 can just as easily be a miracle because miracles are, well, miracles. Even if by appearances (what Greg called coincidence in his shorthand) it doesn’t look like #2.
Greg was using the term 'coincidence' to describe what’s before his eyes. Our eyes deceive us all the time. This is not news. He isn’t saying everything has to look like #2.
Greg said he’s going with God on #1, that he doesn’t need all the bells and whistles. Christians believe in miracles, yet most have never seen the bells and whistles.
Your initial response basically boiled down to, “You’re so irrational. You’d better believe what’s in front of your eyes, it’s all you got.”
October 01, 2013 at 12:13 PM
I just boiled down my initial response and found... my initial response.
Again with the understanding from the video that, in context, the OP intended the God and the OP to be alternatives.
October 05, 2013 at 04:20 PM
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