Tag Archives: Prayer

How I arrived at Open Theism

I arrived at Open Theism via the back door. I had never heard the term and had never heard the concept expressed. However, I was struggling in understanding how free will and God already knowing everything that was going to happen could possibly co-exist.

My first conclusion was to embrace paradox. That is, I concluded that God somehow blinded himself to the choices he already knew people were going to make and dealt with people accordingly. As you can imagine, that was not a very satisfying conclusion.

Meanwhile, I wrestled with the whole purpose of prayer. Was I just praying what God already knew I was was going to pray, in fact, what he intended me to pray since the creation of the world? Or, was I actually dealing with God? Did Abraham really intercede for the wicked cities, or did God orchestrate the whole thing?

Finally, I struggled with what appears to be a “learning God,” especially in the book of Genesis. God’s statement to Abraham that “now I know” was a real challenge to me. On one hand, I believed that he already knew everything, but I found several examples in Genesis of God learning something. I felt I was somehow being disrespectful of God to wonder if he could not know something at one point and then know it later on.

My conclusion to all this was pretty much kept to myself because I feared I had drifted from orthodoxy in concluding that God learns and adjusts how he deals with humanity based on what people do.

When I started hearing about Open Theism I realized that there was an approach to understanding God that allowed me to plug all this stuff in.

I don’t think any of this makes me a better Christian than I would be otherwise, but it does give me a handle on some of the more perplexing aspects of how God works in this world and in our lives.

Bring real in prayer

This from Andrew Murray’s “With Christ in the school of prayer.”

My prayer is not answered by God as a result of what I try to be when praying, but because of what I am when I’m not praying.

Seeking God more than his blessing

This from Andrew Murray’s “With Christ in the school of prayer.”

We seek God’s gifts, but God wants to give us Himself first. We think of prayer as the means of extracting good gifts from heaven, and we think of Christ as the means to draw ourselves up to God. We want to stand at the door and cry. Christ wants us to enter in and realize that we are friends and children.

J. Hudson Taylor on prayer

In his biography on George Muller, Pierson has an interesting quote on prayer from missionary J. Hudson Taylor: “Satan, the Hinderer, may build a barrier about us, but he can never roof us in, so that we cannot look up.”  When there is nowhere else to turn, the upward look of prayer remains our most available resource.

I don’t know whether to be ashamed or blessed by this phone call

Being the only full time church employee I end up taking a lot of phone calls that would normally go to staff people.
I just got a call from a group that has ministry materials and events for teens. The young lady wanted to talk to the youth minister, but settled for me instead.

Frankly, I didn’t want to talk to her. I told her that we receive their mail and that it is placed in the youth department’s mail box, but she wanted to tell me all about their program anyway.

Only people in church offices will identify with this, but I think of calls like this as “sanctified telemarketing.” It is definitely telemarketing, but you are often talking to a very nice person who expects you to be a very nice person in return. Saying, “I’m not interested” and hanging up is not acceptable.

The young lady told me she was 18 and very excited about their program. She could hear in my voice that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about talking to her as she was about talking to me.

Early in the conversation, she stopped and asked me, “Are you okay?”

I replied, “I’m okay.”

She said, “You sound kind of down.”

I said, “No, really, I’m fine.”

So she went back to wanting to tell me all about her program. I really didn’t want to hear it, and told her again, that we get their mailing and that it was already in the right hands.

So, bless her heart, she asked if she could pray with me.

I said, “Sure.”

She prayed a heartfelt prayer for our teens, our church, and for me.

When she finished, I said, “Thank you for that good prayer.”

She asked, “Are you sure you’re okay? You sound sad.”

I assured her that I wasn’t sad, and that I was okay.

It was time for her to hang up, but, bless her heart, she took time to assure me that she was much more concerned about helping teens know the Lord than she was about selling her product.

Even though she mistook my lack of enthusiasm for listening to her tell me about her products for some kind of personal sadness, I couldn’t help but be impressed by her spirit.

Tell you what, I wish that young lady attended our church.

Value of Prayer

From S.D. Gordon in “Quiet Talks on Prayer”:

Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.

You can read this book online at Project Gutenberg’s Quiet Talks on Prayer, by S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon