Saturday, June 02, 2007

An Answer to a Question I was Once Asked About Prayer

Back when I was recovering from my medical emergency and posted several times about it, I was asked how I feel about Roman Catholics praying for me. I meant to address this question here, but never did. In fact I know Roman Catholics were praying for me, as I was born and raised in it, and most of my extended family would still claim some level of allegiance to it. Some are quite devout, some are more nominal.

Basically I would not support the idea of prayer to Mary or any saint. But I did tend to focus on the concern and love that was shown by people taking time out of their day to pray for me. I know God's will would be done, and it would not be thwarted or changed by people praying in a way I believe is incorrect at best. So my hope and trust was in God all along, but I also was encouraged that people would take time to pray for me. So while I would discount some of the prayers said for me, I would never discount the person who did the praying. Some who said they prayed for me would not call themselves Christians of any sort. They prayed to an impersonal god or force of some sort. I would definitely discount that prayer, but again not discount the person.

I think it's important to make that distinction. No matter what disagreements you have with another person--they are still a human being, and deserve to be treated as one. So if you prayed for my health, to any god, being, person or whatever--I may strongly disagree with you and your prayer, but I do appreciate the time you took and concern and love that shows. (If you prayed for me not to be a Christian/Protestant/Presbyterian/Reformed believer, etc--well, I would disagree with that as well.)

For more on this, with a different reason behind it, see this post on the Beggars All blog.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Joel said...

Pilgrim, I can honestly say I've never prayed for your return to Rome. A lot of Catholics would disagree with my attitude, but I think the Lord allows the schism to continue for a reason. If He wants you on the Protestant side of it, I'm not going to second-guess Him. (If He doesn't, of course, He knows better than I what to do about it.) So I usually don't pray for any Protestant to turn Catholic, and I try not to proselytize, either. The most I do is try to explain why our beliefs aren't as silly and/or heretical as they're made out to be.

I did indeed pray for you when I found out you were having health problems, but since I usually don't pray to saints anyway (you can take the boy out of the First Baptist and all that), I doubt there was any prayer you would object to.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Dear Pilgrim:

By odd coincidence, the matter of how one ought to pray for those who believe differently came up in a private conversation I had with a Reformed friend of mine last week. An excerpt of what I'd written him seems remarkably applicable:

"When possible, pray for others in a manner that those for whom one prays would say, 'Amen.'
"For example, I rarely pray for others to find the truth I find in Jesus' Church; rather, I pray that the Holy Spirit guide others (and me) in all truth and that God grant us the vision and grace to follow Jesus. I seldom pray for others to run the race according to my perception; however, I constantly pray for others (and me) to be granted the fullness of Christ's fellowship in Heaven once the race is run."

In other words, Pilgrim, I disagree with the position taken by James Swan, though I fully understand and respect it. In order to best respect such peoples' stance, while at the same time loving them as my neighbor and therefore as myself, I try to avoid praying for them to convert to my way of thinking, but rather that God bless them (and me) with His truth. After all, our knowledge is finite, and we can always learn more about the infinate God.

Of course I believe Catholic understanding is the better (otherwise, I would not hold to it); however, that does not preclude me from praying that God reveal to all His fullness, and let the "chips fall where they may." As to whether or not God even *hears* my prayer, I submit that He would hear it even were I not indeed a Christian. For the prayer of the sinner must be heard for him to ever be saved. For God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us... And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will call upon the mane of The Lord shall be saved.

I do hope this clarifies rather than muddles. If the latter, please forgive my limitations.

Humbly submited by your brother in Christ,
--Theo

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

LOL! I wrote:
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will call upon the mane of The Lord shall be saved."

Ah, if only spellcheck could catch stuff like that one. It must be some sort of Aslan reference!

I guess that ought to have been,"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved."

Peace,
--Theo

12:06 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

I dunno, Theo. We could probably draw typological parallels with Samson, too. :)

10:36 AM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

To paraphrase theo-
Of course I believe Reformed understanding is the better (otherwise, I would not hold to it), but I also believe that because of God. It's not because I'm smarter than you nor because I'm better than you at anything.

It's all His grace.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

In order to best respect such peoples' stance, while at the same time loving them as my neighbor and therefore as myself, I try to avoid praying for them to convert to my way of thinking, but rather that God bless them (and me) with His truth.

A prayer like, O Lord, please cause so-and-so to be more like me" does seem kind of arrogant, when you think of it that way. But I know I pray like that, and not just in matters of religious conversion.

5:05 PM  

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