The Prayer of Psalm 10 Part II
In last week’s post (please read my post “The Prayer of Psalm 10” if you haven’t already) I began my look into Psalms that are prayers for deliverance and protection. I had a difficult time organizing the post because so many things were going through my mind. After giving it some thought it seems like a very good idea to highlight what I have been taught about prayer. This should provide some much needed context.
Growing up I was taught a very structured approach to prayer which all-in-all was a good thing. To give you a sense of that structure I tracked down an online book on prayer written by Pastor Bill Wenstrom (see “A Productive Prayer Life”). Pastor Wenstrom learned theology from the same pastor that I grew up listening to and his teaching on prayer is, as far as I can tell, the same. Here is the basic structure for Christian prayer:
There are seven essential elements that should be included in every prayer offered to God:
(2) Filling of the Spirit
(6) intercession [Intercession means to pray for both the temporal and spiritual needs of believers and unbelievers, friends and enemies. It includes prayer for persons and organizations such as one’s employer or government.]
(7) petition [A petition is a prayer request for your own particular spiritual and temporal needs.]
In addition all prayers must be made to the Father and ended by asking for these things in Christ’s name.
Okay, so what’s the problem? Well, if you go back and read my previous post on this topic, which includes the entire text of Psalm 10, you will see that the prayer of Psalm 10 does not fit into the seven essentials.
As I had mentioned last week, Psalm 10 basically begins with what appears to be an indictment of the wicked. That is not allowed for in the seven essentials. Psalm 10 does ask for protection of the innocent, which is intercession, but also asks for the wicked to be “called into account” for their evil. That isn’t allowed for either.
You may say “so what, these seven essentials don’t prohibit the type of prayer made in Psalm 10.” Fair enough but there is a lot more in Pastor Wenstrom’s treatment of prayer. Based on Colossians 3:2 and Philippians 3:10 he makes the following statement:
What then should we pray for, if not for the “things” of this world? The Apostle Paul instructs us in what to pray for when praying for ourselves. The ultimate objective of the believer praying for himself is to become like Christ, since becoming like Christ is the Father’s will for our lives and, ultimately, glorifies Him. The greatest objective of all prayer is the glorification of God. Our petitions, therefore, should center on the Father’s will for our lives. One of the things that we should pray for is that our love for God and others would grow.
Do you begin to see the problem I am having now? For many years I was discouraged from asking for help with daily problems that are “of this world.” This was also tied in with the “Divine Decrees” (see my post “The Divine Decrees” if you want gobs of detail). The logic works something like this: “God knew in eternity past everything we (believers) would ever need and provided everything for us in His perfect plan. To ask for God to provide for you is to deny that He has already provided for you in eternity past.” We were discouraged from asking for our daily needs because to do so is borderline blasphemy. I believe that this is one of the reasons I have been interested in Molinism of late. Molinism permits me to interact with God, and ask for His provisions, in a way that “decretal” theology discourages.
I should also mention the time when Paul prayed for the “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9) and God refused. I was taught that this wasn’t simply a case where God refused Paul’s request but a blanket prohibition against asking for God to give us relief from trials in life! I don’t see anything of the kind in that passage. Paul prayed for the thorn in the flesh to be removed because he had prayed for such assistance many times before. This time God said “no” but there is no blanket prohibition here.
I have a lot of other information swirling around in my mind right now but I am going to spare you all, I think I have made my point. Many of the prayers in the Book of Psalms violate much of what I have been taught about prayer. I do believe that many things changed when Christ instituted the Church but I have seen no justification as to why prayer was changed so dramatically.
There are many Old Testament prayers asking for deliverance but the theology of my youth said that these are unavailable to me. Why is that exactly? Once again, if God expects me to do the right thing every time (and He does) then why can’t I ask for protection from the evil that will seek retribution? Why must I take a pagan “que sera” attitude about God’s provision for me? Why shouldn’t I ask for protection and expect God to honor the request at least part of the time?