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6/14/2017 4:51 pm  #11


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

From what I have heard on Christianity, I find A to be true.

Perhaps a Protestant would be fine with it, though even then I'm not sure. It comes down to the oft-misunderstood "extra ecclesiam nulla salus". God wills salvation through the Church: salvation comes from being incorporated into Christ, which we refer to as becoming a member of his "mystical body", the Church (to what degree this Church is associated with the visible Church is a famously divisive issue, with views ranging from "the true Church has no overlap with the plainly corrupt visible Church" [absurdly hardline Protestants] to "the visible Church is absolutely identical to the mystical body" [absurdly hardline Catholics/Orthodox]). Christ's action extends through history by way of the ministry of the Church, animated by the Holy Spirit, so that you cannot simply say "Christ does this; so the Church can have no part in it". The Christian at prayer is only possible because he or she is a member of Christ's body, capable of being a living extension of his activity when the Spirit lives in them - this is why their prayer is not in competition with the mediation of Jesus. Basically, so far as I see it, only someone who doesn't see the Church (visible or otherwise) as in any way an instrument of salvation/distribution of grace, would agree with your point.

nojoum wrote:

Of course Jesus does not mean you can wish for everything; e.g. you cannot make sinful and immoral requests. However, I don't see why if your desires are aligned with God (or in another words meaning that you abide in Jesus and his words abide in you), your wish would not come true.

Is there really no grey area between "sin" and "stuff God wills to bring about right now"? Can we not say that something may not be such that God would bring about a miracle to pull it off, yet not be in itself immoral?
In any case, the simple fact is that people don't always get what they ask God for. The authors of the NT knew this, so we can assume they didn't throw this knowledge out the window when writing these passages, and understood them differently to your interpretation. I would recommend taking Jason's advice and looking at the wider context for all these passages.

nojoum wrote:

One might object that you cannot abide in his words which would raise another point. Is it not that through the grace of God that we can walk in the path of righteousness. Is not grace of God freely given everyone, independent of work, through faith in Jesus? Or is that grace of God is not enough to walk in righteousness?
 

This is a very different line of questioning, and I'd rather not derail this thread, but in brief: in itself, of course the grace of God is enough. But the grace of God isn't forced on us. We can reject it in the first place, in which case we don't receive it at all, or we can reject it (in this life) after we have received it, in which case we lose it. This is hardly because the grace of God is "not enough" to walk in righteousness. You could offer me enough food to keep me alive, but I could still starve if I tell you to sod off. God doesn't "sod off", of course, and I believe he will keep offering up to the point of death if need be, but grace isn't coercive. If you want to discuss the sufficiency of grace, however, that's a controversial point itself and should probably go on a different thread.

 

6/14/2017 5:46 pm  #12


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Alexander wrote:

Perhaps a Protestant would be fine with it, though even then I'm not sure. It comes down to the oft-misunderstood "extra ecclesiam nulla salus". God wills salvation through the Church: salvation comes from being incorporated into Christ, which we refer to as becoming a member of his "mystical body", the Church (to what degree this Church is associated with the visible Church is a famously divisive issue, with views ranging from "the true Church has no overlap with the plainly corrupt visible Church" [absurdly hardline Protestants] to "the visible Church is absolutely identical to the mystical body" [absurdly hardline Catholics/Orthodox]). Christ's action extends through history by way of the ministry of the Church, animated by the Holy Spirit, so that you cannot simply say "Christ does this; so the Church can have no part in it". The Christian at prayer is only possible because he or she is a member of Christ's body, capable of being a living extension of his activity when the Spirit lives in them - this is why their prayer is not in competition with the mediation of Jesus. Basically, so far as I see it, only someone who doesn't see the Church (visible or otherwise) as in any way an instrument of salvation/distribution of grace, would agree with your point.

Thanks for the comprehensive explanation. I see your point and I accept in what it is because my knowledge of Christianity is cursory. However, I will make one comment regarding your last sentence.

You can still argue that church is an instrument of salvation but not in the sense of prayers being answered by God. Rather, the Church preaches the gospel so that the people know the gospel in its fullness and truth and by the virtue of knowing the truth, they would walk the path of righteousness. So they are merely responsible for preaching the gospel. The power to be born again and live a righteous life merely comes from Jesus.

Moreover, one can also argue that Church has the power to change people in the same way that Jesus gave disciples the power to heal the people. So you still can receive healing from Jesus directly or indirectly through his disciples. I also see a possible objection in that what if Jesus have actually mandated people to approach him through his church.

Alexander wrote:

Is there really no grey area between "sin" and "stuff God wills to bring about right now"? Can we not say that something may not be such that God would bring about a miracle to pull it off, yet not be in itself immoral?
In any case, the simple fact is that people don't always get what they ask God for. The authors of the NT knew this, so we can assume they didn't throw this knowledge out the window when writing these passages, and understood them differently to your interpretation. I would recommend taking Jason's advice and looking at the wider context for all these passages.

Maybe I need to see the context for all of the passages but I still I will respond to your objection.
Your objection to my response is still invalid. Because at least, I think we can agree that God must not reject my request for walking the path of righteousness. So all other grey things does not really matter. If God answers all request for living a righteous life then I don't need a prayer of a friend or the church.

Alexander wrote:

This is a very different line of questioning, and I'd rather not derail this thread, but in brief: in itself, of course the grace of God is enough. But the grace of God isn't forced on us. We can reject it in the first place, in which case we don't receive it at all, or we can reject it (in this life) after we have received it, in which case we lose it. This is hardly because the grace of God is "not enough" to walk in righteousness. You could offer me enough food to keep me alive, but I could still starve if I tell you to sod off. God doesn't "sod off", of course, and I believe he will keep offering up to the point of death if need be, but grace isn't coercive. If you want to discuss the sufficiency of grace, however, that's a controversial point itself and should probably go on a different thread.

Fine. I wont argue this point here.
 

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6/16/2017 1:29 pm  #13


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

Alexander wrote:

Is there really no grey area between "sin" and "stuff God wills to bring about right now"? Can we not say that something may not be such that God would bring about a miracle to pull it off, yet not be in itself immoral?
In any case, the simple fact is that people don't always get what they ask God for. The authors of the NT knew this, so we can assume they didn't throw this knowledge out the window when writing these passages, and understood them differently to your interpretation. I would recommend taking Jason's advice and looking at the wider context for all these passages.

Maybe I need to see the context for all of the passages but I still I will respond to your objection.
Your objection to my response is still invalid. Because at least, I think we can agree that God must not reject my request for walking the path of righteousness. So all other grey things does not really matter. If God answers all request for living a righteous life then I don't need a prayer of a friend or the church.
 

I disagree with you here, God has no obligation to fulfil your request even if you walk the path of righteousness even through Christ. I think you are missing the point here. Even Christ himself said "My Father, if this chalice may not pass me by, but I must drink it, then thy will be done". What this means is that you can ask God for anything but He may or may not provide it to you in His own time since we need to be aligned with His Will (i.e. the ultimate final end). Now, that also does not mean that God does not listen to other people's prayers, He may do so if He chooses to.
 

 

6/16/2017 1:47 pm  #14


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Jason wrote:

I disagree with you here, God has no obligation to fulfil your request even if you walk the path of righteousness even through Christ. I think you are missing the point here. Even Christ himself said "My Father, if this chalice may not pass me by, but I must drink it, then thy will be done". What this means is that you can ask God for anything but He may or may not provide it to you in His own time since we need to be aligned with His Will (i.e. the ultimate final end). Now, that also does not mean that God does not listen to other people's prayers, He may do so if He chooses to.
 

I would answer it in two ways.
Firstly, what Jesus was asking was against his very purpose which is to save mankind. As you see the condition for the prayer, it requires to abide in Jesus's words. So by making such request Jesus was not abiding in God's words which would allow God to reject his request.

Secondly, are you telling me that I cannot ask God even what he wills for me? Or that God does not will for me to live a righteous life? Then such God is not even worthy of my attention. You are even contradicting Jesus's words who likened God to a humanly father. You are even putting God in lower position that humans.

EDIT: I think I now know why you gave such a an answer.
" I think we can agree that God must not reject my request for walking the path of righteousness"
I did not mean that since I walked the path of righteousness, God must answer my request' Rather that I ask God to give me the power to walk the path of righteousness. So Sorry for the grammatical mistake. Still my two objections are valid.

 

Last edited by nojoum (6/16/2017 2:23 pm)

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6/18/2017 12:04 pm  #15


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

Jason wrote:

I disagree with you here, God has no obligation to fulfil your request even if you walk the path of righteousness even through Christ. I think you are missing the point here. Even Christ himself said "My Father, if this chalice may not pass me by, but I must drink it, then thy will be done". What this means is that you can ask God for anything but He may or may not provide it to you in His own time since we need to be aligned with His Will (i.e. the ultimate final end). Now, that also does not mean that God does not listen to other people's prayers, He may do so if He chooses to.
 

I would answer it in two ways.
Firstly, what Jesus was asking was against his very purpose which is to save mankind. As you see the condition for the prayer, it requires to abide in Jesus's words. So by making such request Jesus was not abiding in God's words which would allow God to reject his request.

Secondly, are you telling me that I cannot ask God even what he wills for me? Or that God does not will for me to live a righteous life? Then such God is not even worthy of my attention. You are even contradicting Jesus's words who likened God to a humanly father. You are even putting God in lower position that humans.

EDIT: I think I now know why you gave such a an answer.
" I think we can agree that God must not reject my request for walking the path of righteousness"
I did not mean that since I walked the path of righteousness, God must answer my request' Rather that I ask God to give me the power to walk the path of righteousness. So Sorry for the grammatical mistake. Still my two objections are valid.

 

I think you missed my point here. The important point for Jesus about his suffering and asking God to take that away but still have His will done, is the sense of humility. That is the key point here, even if what Jesus was asking was against his very purpose, Jesus's sense of humility to face his suffering ONLY because God wanted him to is an excellent example.

You can definitely ask God for anything, notice I said that God is under no obligation to answer it. If you "walk the path of righteousness" just so that you can get your own way defeats the purpose of walking the path of righteousness. Again humility is the key here. I think we can both agree that just like your human father who will not give you everything you ask for (even if you are the most obedient child) since in his worldly wisdom he might see that it would harm you in the long run then how much more would God do so.

I am not sure where I lowered God to below human position please clarify.  

Last edited by Jason (6/18/2017 12:05 pm)

 

6/18/2017 2:30 pm  #16


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Jason wrote:

I think you missed my point here. The important point for Jesus about his suffering and asking God to take that away but still have His will done, is the sense of humility. That is the key point here, even if what Jesus was asking was against his very purpose, Jesus's sense of humility to face his suffering ONLY because God wanted him to is an excellent example.

You can definitely ask God for anything, notice I said that God is under no obligation to answer it. If you "walk the path of righteousness" just so that you can get your own way defeats the purpose of walking the path of righteousness. Again humility is the key here. I think we can both agree that just like your human father who will not give you everything you ask for (even if you are the most obedient child) since in his worldly wisdom he might see that it would harm you in the long run then how much more would God do so.

I am not sure where I lowered God to below human position please clarify.  

What I said about God does not prevent me from being humble. My humbleness comes from the fact that I am precisely asking in my prayers the power to do whatever God wills for my life. Moreover, me confessing that my power comes from God is humbleness. So I don't see where I am arrogant.

Again what you are saying is missing the point. I am precisely praying for having the power to do God wills for my life. So in that sense, it is impossible for me to ask something harmful. So objection is invalid.

You have lowered God below humanly fathers by stating that God will reject my wish to walking a righteous path. Is it not what the God of the new testaments wants (in the case of Jesus this was going on the cross with all of its horrors and suffering)? Or he wants me to be in misery and darkness?  Even lets assume that God wants me to in misery and darkness, when I am resurrected God will be happy with me because I did exactly what he wanted. (Although I would never worship such God in the first place)

Last edited by nojoum (6/18/2017 2:31 pm)

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6/19/2017 11:50 am  #17


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Firstly, I think my disagreement is NOT that if you ask God for a path to righteous that He will not provide it to you. I am raising God's position higher and not lower by saying that even then it would be His Will not your will whether He will answer your prayer or not no matter how humble or sincere your prayer is.

Secondly, walking that path of righteous does not make your life void of misery and suffering. That is most certainly NOT the case in the Christian thought. As a matter of fact living a Christian life is carrying your cross of suffering with you as you might see in the lives of the apostles and the saints. Christians are looking forward to rewards in Heaven which we attain only through Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps.

 

6/19/2017 1:00 pm  #18


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Jason wrote:

Firstly, I think my disagreement is NOT that if you ask God for a path to righteous that He will not provide it to you. I am raising God's position higher and not lower by saying that even then it would be His Will not your will whether He will answer your prayer or not no matter how humble or sincere your prayer is..

By your standard then, I think the worldly dictators are in higher position than God. It's not God's power that draws human beings to him, rather his perfect Love. That is why we exalt him above everything and everyone.
Jesus was not in higher position when he was with God. He rose in position he became as human, sacrificing his godly status and power. When sacrificed all he had to give us life. That is when his position rose. The Jews did not obey him, the pharisees denied him but did that sink Jesus's position? No the more he loved them despite their enmity the higher his position became. 

Jason wrote:

Secondly, walking that path of righteous does not make your life void of misery and suffering. That is most certainly NOT the case in the Christian thought. As a matter of fact living a Christian life is carrying your cross of suffering with you as you might see in the lives of the apostles and the saints. Christians are looking forward to rewards in Heaven which we attain only through Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps

You are misinterpreting my words. I ask God for power in order to be able to overcome the obstacles and difficulties of life. I'm not asking him to give me another mission or task in life, I am asking him to help me submit to his will (which I what I normally assume walking the path of righteousness). So I don't see why God would want to reject such prayer.

Regardless of your answer, I will suggest a solution to this problem. Others' prayers are not important because God is not kind enough to grant our wishes. He can do that and he is kind enough to that. Rather, it is out of his wisdom that he tied our prayer's being answered to other people praying for us and we praying for them. In this way he has made us perfect in the sense that in order to please God we have to have love for others. For how is it possible to pray for others if you don't love them in the first place? It is in this way that we obey the two great commandments (Loving God with all our heart, mind and soul and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves).

This is again partly the reason we are told that we will be forgiven by God as long as we forgive others. 

Why did God decide to answer our prayers with this condition? I think it is because we human beings are weak against our fleshly desires and this condition helps to overcome our selfish ego.

Last edited by nojoum (6/19/2017 1:05 pm)

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6/19/2017 4:13 pm  #19


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

By your standard then, I think the worldly dictators are in higher position than God. It's not God's power that draws human beings to him, rather his perfect Love. That is why we exalt him above everything and everyone.

I do not understand what you are saying here, I think we are just talking past each other. Why would dictators be a higher position, if I say, God your Will be done rather than mine? This is done out of humility and giving God His due Authority and Respect. This also does NOT undermine His Loving Nature.  

nojoum wrote:

Jesus was not in higher position when he was with God. He rose in position he became as human, sacrificing his godly status and power. When sacrificed all he had to give us life. That is when his position rose. The Jews did not obey him, the pharisees denied him but did that sink Jesus's position? No the more he loved them despite their enmity the higher his position became.

Not sure what you trying to say here but from a Christian perspective Jesus is God Incarnate. There is no Higher position than that and nothing anyone can say or do will sink or make his position higher.

nojoum wrote:

You are misinterpreting my words. I ask God for power in order to be able to overcome the obstacles and difficulties of life. I'm not asking him to give me another mission or task in life, I am asking him to help me submit to his will (which I what I normally assume walking the path of righteousness). So I don't see why God would want to reject such prayer.

Again what I am saying is that God can give you what you ask for and that is awesome that you are asking him for it but He also has no obligation to do so, since we are not in a position to dictate to Him what we want even if it is to walk the path of righteousness. Again keyword is no obligation, hence humility becomes a key.

nojoum wrote:

Regardless of your answer, I will suggest a solution to this problem. Others' prayers are not important because God is not kind enough to grant our wishes. He can do that and he is kind enough to that. Rather, it is out of his wisdom that he tied our prayer's being answered to other people praying for us and we praying for them. In this way he has made us perfect in the sense that in order to please God we have to have love for others. For how is it possible to pray for others if you don't love them in the first place? It is in this way that we obey the two great commandments (Loving God with all our heart, mind and soul and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves).

This is again partly the reason we are told that we will be forgiven by God as long as we forgive others. 

Why did God decide to answer our prayers with this condition? I think it is because we human beings are weak against our fleshly desires and this condition helps to overcome our selfish ego.

Yes I agree with what you say and that was my original point as in the sense of community that you have when you pray. Community is created when you love your neighbour.
 

 

6/19/2017 4:49 pm  #20


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

The reason for mentioning the dictators: The mere fact that you have power does not earn you any respect. Absolute NO respect. I respect and honor God not because he is almighty but because he has a loving nature and he is just. 

The reason that I did not accept your original post is that you failed to mention that God is kind enough to answer your prayers but it would be better for you if he ties everyone's prayers to each other. 

Let's say God has no obligation to answer our prayers. Why should he then care if we are a community or an individual? In any case he can ignore us and there is no moral consequence for him. I actually now a have good reason to avoid church because either case God is not obliged to answer our prayers.

But that's not how I think.
If God wants to claim that he is perfect in terms of loving, then he has to answer our prayers in a perfect manner (it does not mean that he has to provide exactly what we ask but provide what we exactly need) (this is just a logical reasoning). For how can you claim that your loving nature is perfect and yet do not perfectly address the needs of human beings. God has the choice not to answer, but once he makes that choice he loses his title as the perfect being (at least in terms of Love). So since everyone agrees that God is perfect, then from his perfectness we know assuredly that he will answer our prayers.

Note: But I am putting the bar of perfectness too low. Because if God provided us what we need even before we ask him, it would mean that his love is more perfect and indeed to me he does that. He does not wait for me to pray to him.
Note: I also dont know why we are so hang up on whether he has obligation or not. The point is that he will respond according to his character, whether you want to say he is obliged to answer or not,

Last edited by nojoum (6/19/2017 6:31 pm)

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