Monday, June 20, 2011

Catechism #116-117

Question #116: Why do Christians need to pray?

Answer: Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us. And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking him for them (Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13).

Question #117: How does God want us to pray so that he will listen to us?

Answer: First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, who has revealed himself in his Word, asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for. Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery, hiding nothing, and humble ourselves in his majestic presence. Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what he promised us in his Word (Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15; 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4; Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6).


KOS said...

I agree that prayer is extremely important. We should learn live within a prayer moment by moment, or at least strive to be awake enough to do so.

And, gosh, I'm with you all the way until we hit the "unshakable foundation". God will listen to our prayer if it is offered from our heart with gratitude and understanding of our responsibility to ourself and the rest of humanity. Jesus was here to demonstrate our path home to God, to tell us who we are (to wake us up to our devine nature as the child of God), to tell us what 'WORK' we must do. To say that the death of Jesus was a ransom paid misses the point entirely.

Our sin and hell lies in our conscious perception of being separate from God. Jesus demonstrated that we can be like him and that we have an immortal spirit. Our work is to wake up to that divine realization and be able to see the same devinity in everyone and everything else, even those who are yet to realize that we are all the children of God, equally.

To realize who we are, our connectedness to God, that we are a child of God given all the grace and creativity that is our birthright, and learning how to live in alignment and harmony with our Father IS heaven and eventually our eternal home. Our own ignorance and the hell we create for ourselves and others is all we have to fear. Our suffering is the state we live in with knowing our connection to God. It is through our suffering that we finally break out of our fearful and controlling nature to seek higher answers. The voice of our Father is always within us and prayer, or silence, will allow that voice to speak to us.

Why some people suffer more than others, is just like how one student learning to read struggles more than another.

I realize this flies in the face of Christian belief, but does my understanding of God and the teachings of Jesus make me less Christian? Probably, but only because of the belief that there is truly a personal relationship with God. Jesus was a gift of god because, not as a ransom paid, but as someone to aspire to become.

KOS said...

oops ... meant that suffering stems from NOT knowing who are are.

Dan Waugh said...

Thanks for the comment(s). I agree that we ought to live in an attitude of prayer - wish it was easy!
You've opened up a good conversation with that second paragraph. I will respectfully disagree that saying "the death Jesus was a ransom paid misses the point entirely". That is, after all, how Jesus framed it. See, for example, Mark 10:45. The apostle Paul reiterates the idea in 1 Timothy 2:6. Frankly, Jesus showing us the way back without Jesus making possible the way back would have accomplished little.

In addition, the apostle Paul is explicit that it is not work we do that brings us to God, but work Christ has already done (Eph. 2:8-9, just as one example).

The Bible, I believe, makes it clear that while we are all God's creation (offspring in Acts 17), only those who are in Christ can be called God's children (John 1:12). The way you frame sin is popular, but not biblical. The bible views sin a rebellion against our Creator King, and hell as the consequence of such rebellion.

To your last question, 'does [this] make me less Christian?' Honestly a comment stream on a blog doesn't give me much to go on, but I'm sorry to say it, I think the answer is yes, it does make you sub-Christian in your beliefs. Christianity isn't just a hodge-podge of moral teachings, but has a doctrinal core. You can believe whatever you wish, but rejecting the core of what Christians have held for centuries makes it quite improper to call yourself a Christian. If you want to read up on that, see Machen's classic 'Christianity and Liberalism'.