Archive for the ‘Prayer’ category

Thoughts on Prayer

May 2, 2013

As those of you who are regular readers of this blog are probably aware, I grew up in a home where we listened to the Bible studies of R.B. Thieme, Jr. (aka Colonel Thieme) on a daily basis. I believe Colonel Thieme knew a lot of Bible doctrine but there are certain topics where his teachings bother me. One of those topics is prayer.

I think it is because of Colonel Thieme’s teaching that when my copy of Ariel’s Spring 2013 Magazine arrived the other day I was fascinated by Principles of Prayer (Part Two) by Arnold Fruchtenbaum. He begins the article by listing eight key passages admonishing us to pray. I quote Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s discussion of the first key passage at the bottom of this article because it spoke to me with great power (your results may vary). It is also contrary to what I remember being taught for all of those years by Colonel Thieme.

I would like to provide a quick introduction to what I had been taught in my youth about prayer. In his development of the Doctrine of Prayer Colonel Thieme put a lot of emphasis on 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Here is the passage:

7b Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.
Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

The Apostle Paul had prayed for the “thorn in the flesh” to be removed but God refused. God had made other provisions for Paul that were sufficient. Colonel Thieme turned this passage into a general prohibition against asking for God’s provision for ourselves. The rationale went something like this: God provided everything we could possibly need in His perfect plan in eternity past. There is nothing we need that He hasn’t already thought of and planned for. To ask for something, like Paul did, is to question God’s plan and provision for our lives.

Last year I got into a discussion with some of Colonel Thieme’s students about prayer. Kathy J. was kind enough to transcribe her notes of what Colonel Thieme taught regarding what we can pray for:

The supreme court of heaven is composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  They hear cases involving….

              1. Evil in the world.
              2. Sinfulness and injustice in human affairs.
              3. The rise and the fall of nations.
              4. Anti-Semitism, personal or national.
              5. Conflicts among believers.
              6. Satanic accusations against believers.
              7. Divine discipline of believers.
              8. Child abuse.

Colonel Thieme considered prayer to be going before the Supreme Court of Heaven and petitioning God directly (which I agree with). Notice there is nothing in there about asking for personal deliverance or provision.

If you would like to see Colonel Thieme’s Doctrine of Prayer you can find it at this link. He does list “prayer for yourself” as being legitimate but it was so restricted I never felt like I could confidently pray for myself. My father has told me there was a time when, because of this teaching, he almost stopped praying because he felt it was pointless.

With that long winded set-up please compare that with this from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s the Principles of Prayer (Part Two):

A.  Luke:18:18

This passage has three parts to it. The first part is in verse 1 in which He deals with the principle He wished to develop.

And he spoke a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint; . . .

The point is that He wants them to pray, and men ought always to pray and not to faint. The word always means, “praying in every situation and circumstance.” We should have a willingness to pray in every situation and in every circumstance. The word faint means “to be disheartened,” and the point is that prayer will keep one from being disheartened. That is why a person should pray in every situation and in every circumstance.

Secondly, in verses 2-5, He gave the parable:

. . .saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, and regarded not man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came oft unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming.

The point of the parable is this: the judge was indifferent in rendering justice; however, because of persistence of the woman, he finally gave in.

The third part of the passage, verses  6-8, gives the application:

And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge said. And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night, and yet he is longsuffering over them? I say unto you, that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?

The point of the application is to teach persistence in prayer. Unlike the judge, God is not indifferent. And, if a judge who is indifferent will finally respond to persistence, how much more will God who is not indifferent. God will respond to persistent prayer. One should keep on asking in spite of delay. The purpose of persistence is not to make God more willing; God is always willing. The purpose of persistence is to teach us faith and to increase our faith; to change our attitude towards prayer; to teach us to “hang in there” with persistent prayer.

A Deep Sorrow in My Soul

October 12, 2012

Below is a post that I made in the Bible Doctrine Study Group forum at Delphi Forums. The forum is for people who have been associated in some way with the ministry of the late R.B. Thieme, Jr. My post was titled “A Deep Sorrow in My Soul” but anyone who isn’t a member of that forum won’t be able to view it. With that in mind I thought I would also post it here and see if any of my regular readers (or irregular ones) have anything to contribute.

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Over the past couple of years I have been thinking about prayer and its proper use in the life of the Christian. Once again something has happened that has forced me to think long and hard about prayer.

Before I get into this topic I want to say that I have a solid understanding of Colonel Thieme’s teaching on prayer and that what I am about to write challenges that teaching. On this one I am going to be a Berean and ask anyone on this forum to show me where my thought has failed.

If any of you have been following current events you will have heard about the abduction of Jessica Ridgeway last week in a Denver suburb. I grew up in the Denver area and still have family there. As I write this everyone in Denver is waiting to hear from the FBI if the dismembered body they found two days ago is that of the 10 year old Jessica.

All of us were taught by Colonel Thieme that we are no longer allowed to make imprecatory prayers. After a lot of thought I do not believe the Colonel had it right. I have come to the conclusion that I do have the right to call for the destruction of Jessica’s murderer. I invite one and all of you to show me, through scripture, where I am wrong.

Colonel Thieme’s justification for believing that imprecatory is now banned is to the best of my knowledge based solely on this passage in Matthew:

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48 (more…)

The Prayer of Psalm 10 Part IV

September 21, 2012

This is the fourth and final post I am making on Psalm 10 (link to Part I, Part II, and Part III). In this post I am going to provide two quotes from Gary Kukis’ work on Psalm 10 (link here) because he did as thorough of a job as I have seen.

Before I go on I would like to mention that I will be taking a few weeks off from posting. It has been a personal goal of mine to post once per week since I started this blog but I have been very busy lately and it is getting difficult for me to meet that goal. The truth is that I am tired. I am still going to post but I don’t want to continue to pressure myself to post every week.

The first quote from Gary Kukis dovetails with what I have written earlier in this series on imprecatory prayer (prayer calling for the destruction of an enemy). In it Gary doesn’t explicitly state that imprecatory prayer is forbidden but the implication is certainly there. I can’t find anything wrong with the reasoning in and of itself but I am still unsure that this is the complete and final reasoning on the subject. There are certainly imprecatory prayers that are part of scripture that were legitimate in the time and place when they were made. What changed between when the imprecatory prayers were made by King David, and others, and when Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount that Gary quotes from? At both times the Mosaic Law was in effect so the same “rules” applied. I just don’t know and maybe I never will but there has to be more in play than the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”).

From Gary’s application following verse Psalm10:13: (more…)

The Prayer of Psalm 10 Part III

September 7, 2012

For the last couple of posts I have been looking at Psalm 10 in my continuing quest to understand Psalms that petition God for protection and deliverance. All of this was spurred by some comments made by Dr. George Meisinger at the 2012 Chafer Theological Seminary Pastors’ Conference (please read “The Doctrine of Fear” for details). Basically I was upset at the thought that God would expect certain behavior from Christians and then not protect us from the evil that always seeks to punish such behavior.

I have found that Gary Kukis (an exegete who I have found to be solid and practical) has done a lot of work on Psalm 10 and I want to study it in a bit more before closing out my posts on this Psalm. However just thinking about what Psalm 10 says and its implications for the different doctrines I have been taught has been a fruitful exercise for me.

After reading Psalm 10 (see “The Prayer of Psalm 10”) I have reached one conclusion and have some new questions. Here are my thoughts so far:

  • In spite of what I was taught about prayer (see “The Prayer of Psalm 10 Part II” for details) it appears that asking for protection from God is perfectly legitimate. In many of the Psalms the author doesn’t just ask for protection but demands it!
  • There is an imprecatory (asking for the destruction of an enemy) aspect to Psalm 10. I was always taught that imprecatory prayer was forbidden in the Church age but, after thinking about it, it seems that the justification I was given for that doesn’t hold up very well. Of course I am not aware of any imprecatory prayers by Jesus or the Apostles either.
  • It may be alright for Christians to demand protection from God like some of the Psalmists did. That being said I don’t think I am ready to be demanding just yet. Until I can confidently tell the difference between a legitimate demand and being a spoiled brat I think I am going to avoid “pushing the envelope.” (more…)

The Prayer of Psalm 10 Part II

August 24, 2012

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:

(1) confession
(2) Filling of the Spirit
(3) faith
(4) worship
(5) thanksgiving
(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.]

A Productive Prayer Life
p 35

In addition all prayers must be made to the Father and ended by asking for these things in Christ’s name. (more…)

The Prayer of Psalm 10

August 17, 2012

This is the first in my series of posts about prayers which ask for God’s protection as found in the Psalms. As I mentioned in last week’s post (see “Prayer and the Christian Life“) I have been struggling of late to put my trust in God the way I know I should. I think part of the solution for me is linking prayer with “faith rest.” If I ask God for protection and guidance I don’t believe that He would deny either to me unless there is a significant reason (e.g. Job).

Up front I want to apologize for the disorganized, almost stream of consciousness, structure of this post. The disorganized feel of the post reflects my own struggle to sort out the meaning of the passage.

Psalm 10 is a prayer for protection and deliverance from enemies which is exactly the topic that I am trying to learn more about. My study so far has generated more questions than it has answered! However that is probably good since people who have no questions never seem to learn much.

The first thing that caught my attention when reading Psalm 10 is that parts of it are imprecatory (follow this link for a discussion of imprecatory prayer). A good example of this is verse 15 which asks God to “break the arm of the wicked and evil.” Maybe that is merely a metaphor but I was always taught that imprecatory prayer was no longer valid since Christ forbade it in the Sermon on the Mount:

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48 (more…)

Prayer and the Christian Life

August 9, 2012

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled “The Doctrine of Fear” in which I discussed my recent struggle with placing my trust in God as I ought to. I was always taught that claiming biblical promises, and then trusting God to keep those promises, is one of the things that any new Christian needs to learn. Faith rest is one of the basic “problem solving devices” which my former pastor drilled into his congregation.

Lately I have heard some teaching which has shaken my understanding of that doctrine or, at least, has made me question if I have been applying it correctly. For many years I have firmly held that if I focus on God’s promises of protection to me then I would have the courage to do the right thing in difficult circumstances.  Sure there will be difficulties but God will see me through. For example here is a quote from one write-up on faith rest:

Finally, in Romans 8:31-32, the believer is able to reach a doctrinal conclusion. This passage says, “To what conclusion are we forced? If God be for us, who shall be against us? He Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up in behalf of us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?”

Reaching the doctrinal conclusion “that God is for us,” allows us to retake control of our situation and restores confidence in God and in our ability to make good decisions. If the problem is too overwhelming, beyond our ability to solve, we are still able to cope by placing ourselves in the mighty hand of God and trusting Him for the solution. (Exodus 14:13)

So what happens if my government begins putting pressure on me to deny the clear teaching of scripture? What happens if basic scriptural teaching on morality is labeled a “hate crime?” Something like that could cost me my job or worse. That’s alright since God will protect me. Or will He? I have recently heard teaching from pastors I respect saying we cannot take it for granted God will always intervene in such situations (we are still expected to what is right though). I have to tell you that really shook me up. (more…)


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