Ask Craig Hazen (October 29-31, 2018)


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM,

This week we have the very special opportunity to ask our questions of Dr. Craig Hazen, the founder and director of the Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University.

I always look forward to seeing Craig. We meet at least twice a year at the Apologetics Leadership Group meetings, which includes a small group of participants from most of the leading apologetics ministries in the United States. I particularly admire Craig’s absolute dedication to God, genuine love for others, passion for apologetics, and great sense of humor. There are dozens (and dozens?) of successful ministries that got their start thanks to Craig’s encouragement and vision.

During our last meetings, this summer at the Zacharias Institute, Craig shared excerpts from his new and excellent book Fearless Prayer. It is now available for purchase:

Having heard Craig speak about the book, and having read it for myself, I am so encouraged that we have the opportunity to ask him our questions about prayer. In particular, the incredible promise that Jesus gives us, as recorded in John 15:7 — If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

In his book, Craig explains why we often doubt this promise - and why we can and should trust that Jesus really meant it!

Craig Hazen’s bio:

Craig Hazen is the founder and director of the master’s program with a concentration in Christian apologetics and director of the master’s program with a concentration in science and religion at Biola University.

Craig is the editor of Philosophia Christi, a philosophy journal. He is also the author of the monograph The Village Enlightenment in America; the acclaimed apologetics novel Five Sacred Crossings; and dozens of articles and chapters in various books and journals. He is a recipient of the Fischer Award, the highest faculty honor at Biola, and has lectured across North America and Europe on key apologetics topics, including lectures on Capitol Hill and in the White House. He is a popular church and conference speaker and a former co-host of a national radio talk program.


  • Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • B.A., California State University, Fullerton

(Carson Weitnauer) #2

To get us started, I’ve asked Craig three questions. Here are his answers. I look forward to your questions and the chance to hear from him this week!

1 - How has your own prayer life changed from writing and publishing Fearless Prayer?

Craig Hazen: Before writing the book, I had been “practicing” this teaching for several years. So the book is really a report of my experience praying with special focus on fruit bearing activities.

The biggest change in my prayer life has been that I am on a constant hunt for potential fruit bearing things to pray about. I am more focused on what God might be doing around me and through me on a given day because it is so exciting to see his hand move. So if I have a need that can benefit the Kingdom or my own spiritual growth, I really look forward to praying about it. And then I have great expectation that he is going to act as quickly as he sees fit.

I still pray for things that I’m not sure are mission-critical requests. After all, he still hears those prayers and loves to respond to us according to his will. But now I have a special eye for the prayers that he has promised to answer. It’s very exciting.

2 – You mention Kojo’s point about how the 9-1-1 emergency service, as wonderful as it is, has conditioned Americans not to primarily rely on God to meet our needs and bear fruit for the kingdom of God.

What other cultural artifacts in the United States do you think are most pervasive and significant in building a culture of autonomy?

Craig Hazen: Oh my, the American spirit itself is set against our fast and focused reliance upon God. Rugged American individualism is no myth. It is part of the permanent furniture in our spiritual living room. As a people we tend not to welcome help and seem to have a built-in, subtle aversion to it. Add to this the “single-family home” and the single passenger car that seem to cocoon us from community and we have a pretty good formula for an autonomy that makes it difficult to rely on others, including God, for help in our lives.

And this does flow over into our prayer life. God really loves it when we are dependent on him.

How can we better diagnose and disentangle ourselves from the pervasive influence of naturalism?

Craig Hazen: Here is a seemingly easy answer to this: read the Scriptures more often. They are overflowing with a supernatural view of the world. But as you read about healings, and angels, and food appearing, and demons, and visions, etc., keep tabs on our own reactions to these accounts. Are you skeptical? Are you always on the hunt for a more naturalistic explanation to the supernatural event that is being presented to you? The best way to make adjustments to something as deeply ingrained as a worldview is to turn the Word of God loose on your mind and imagination. The Spirit of God will prevail.

Another helpful move is to travel to countries and encounter cultures that are not immersed in naturalism. Even in some of the most prosperous and technologically advanced countries (generally outside of North America and Europe) you will find a very different way of apprehending the unseen world—a way that most often takes it all much more seriously.

3. What would you say to people who have understood themselves to be abiding in Jesus, who want to bear fruit for the Lord, who have prayed earnestly for what they saw as God glorifying requests, and yet have been disappointed by the outcome of a certain situation?

Craig Hazen: Yes, refix your spiritual gaze on the things the Lord is doing in terms of answering fruit-bearing prayers in your life. There could be many each day as you serve him and it will encourage you in his love and amazing attentiveness. And then remember that Jesus’ promise in John 15:7 did not include a time frame. So although he moves quickly on many requests as we present them, some requests seem to languish. But rest assured he is on them. I take my cue from Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) and I keep pounding on the door. If I have every reason to believe that what I am offering is a fruit-bearing request, I really do keep after it. I’m always telling myself that based on his promise, “how could he not do this?!”

(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi Craig, what counsel would you give for when prayer feels boring, “dry”, or difficult?

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #4

Hi Craig, I’m just curious about what you would advise to someone who wants to know how to pray properly? How must it be done, and what mindset should they have while praying?

(Shauna pettenuzzo) #5

Hi Craig, my question is why have churches changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, when God rested on the seventh day (Saturday) in Genesis and throughout the Old and New Testaments and told us to keep the Sabbath day holy? Thank you

(Bill Brander) #6

My prayer questions is, when do you stop praying. For example, I pray that God will heal someone, but six months on and they are still ill with cancer. Thanks, bill

(Craig Hazen) #7

I would say that you are in good company. One common feature of stalwart saints who have written about prayer and their prayer life is that it is a constant struggle. Here are four helps that I have gleaned from the “experts “ in prayer and have practiced fruitfully. 1) Get in a regular habit of prayer. 2) Pray for things you know about. If you are trying to change the course of events in deepest Africa and don’t know a soul there or a specific need, it is going to be very hard to stay at it. 3) Think of things of a fruit-bearing nature to pray about as often as you can. God seems to jump on those. And 4) keep a very brief log of your requests so you can go back a day, week, month, year and see how God has moved on your requests. All three of these combined can really keep prayer timely, interesting, and relevant—and sometimes wildly exciting.

(Craig Hazen) #8

My main advice is just do it. In terms of poetry, persuasion, and profundity, my prayers are severely lacking. But I do sit down and just start talking or groaning to God. If I get stuck or need a jumpstart, I recite the Lord’s prayer and meditate on those words. And don’t forget, it is totally legit to pray to God to guide your prayers. It seems to me that is one of those fruit-bearing prayers that he loves to answer and answer quickly. As far as a mindset to have while praying, I can recommend the one I normally have, and it is this: I am having a personal conversation with an extremely loving, wildly powerful, dad who has my best interests in view every moment—and he loves to hear what you need and to give you what will help you and your ministry flourish.

(Craig Hazen) #9

Although this is a bit off topic I thinkThe Lord of the Sabbath himself conquered death on a Sunday—making that day holy in our remembrance. And hence his closest followers began celebrating that feat on that day week by week. I recommend a book by Justo Gonzalez titled “A Brief History of Sunday” (Eerdmans, 2017).

(Craig Hazen) #10

I have discovered that the Holy Spirit is very attentive to this issue. He is a wonderful guide with regard to when to start and stop praying. It is true that our prayers are limited and we can’t cover everything. But often God keeps stoking a fire of prayer in me for certain issues and I seem to have confidence that he will act. The Scriptures teach that persistence is a virtue in prayer—and that is the default mode. But God has also been faithful to move my spirit to another focus when it seems that the time is right for the move. I don’t think a lot about it, but it seems to happen at his directive.

(Carson Weitnauer) #11