CS Lewis - A Problem with Petitionary Prayer


(Ryan Scott) #1

Hello! Brand new here. I’ve got a question that’s been eating me for about a year now.

CS Lewis writes an essay titled “Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer”. I’m sure you can find it if you google it. In it, he lays out the two methods of petitionary prayer laid out in the new testament:

A) Not my will, but thy will be done.
B) Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Lewis claims that these do not play well with each other. There appears to be a paradox given to us. First, if we are to pray for the will of Yahweh, why give us the second option at all. Second, if we do pray the second way, why are we not receiving what we ask for? I would assume it’s because of insufficient faith (James 1:6-8). But then we would be forced to pray for faith, but may not receive that due to lack of faith.

There’s some deeper elements in this that Lewis gets into, but that’s the basic gist of it all. What are your thoughts? How are we to use petitionary prayer in a biblical way? How did the authors of the New Testament view and use petitionary prayer?


(SeanO) #2

@rjscott Thank you for your question. In this particular article by C. S. Lewis, he is struggling with the appearance that God grants less than He promised. In essence, there was false advertising involved in saying “ask and you will receive” because we only receive when it aligns with the will of God (please see the excerpt from Lewis’ essay below).

Now, our challenge is to consider if this conflict between ‘ask and you will receive’ and ‘Thy will be done’ is real or perceived. In my opinion, I think the first place to start is to ask what Jesus really meant by ‘ask and you will receive’ because my claim is that defining what Jesus meant by this statement is the weak point in Lewis’ argument. Although, I do want to say that I think if we read Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and some of his other works, he seems to have a very sensible view of how these two things can practically be lived out. See my linked article at the bottom for a few examples.

My condensed answer is this: If we consider Jesus’ statement ‘ask and you will receive’ in context, the context eliminates the conflict with ‘Thy will be done’. Jesus, having just finished the Sermon on the Mount, was not offering a blank check but rather promising that if they wanted to be a righteous hungering, pure hearted, peace making, persecution suffering child of God, the Father would grant them the Spirit and wisdom to do it. Moreover, petitionary prayer is relational, between God our Father and us His children. No good Father gives their child everything they ask for, but only what is truly good for them.

Feel free to push back or ask further questions. May the Lord Jesus grant you peace and wisdom by His Spirit as you pray through the purpose and teaching of Christ on petitionary prayer.

Quote from Lewis’ essay on prayer:

image

What Did Jesus Mean by “Ask and You Shall Receive”?

When reading the Bible, context is so important. Matthew 7:7, ask you shall receive, is near the end of the Sermon on the Mount. And throughout that sermon Jesus is saying things that turn peoples’ view of God upside down - about the righteous being persecuted and that the meek will inherit the earth. So context alone tells us that Jesus was not saying “ask for anything you want and you will get it” - rather, Jesus is saying that if you ask to be the type of person he has been describing - with a pure heart, who hungers after righteousness, then God will grant your request.

I believe this line of thinking is further verified by verses such as this one from Luke, where Jesus is very clear that He will give the Holy Spirit to all who ask. He is not giving a blank check. Rather, Jesus is saying that if you truly want to take up your cross and be His disciple and to truly be a righteous, pure hearted, peace making, suffering child of God, the Father will grant you the power and heart to do it.

Luke 11:13 - If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Now - there is no conflict between this view of ‘ask and you will receive’ and ‘Thy will be done’. A proper understanding of context eliminates the conflict.

Here are some other resources on this question that I think make some helpful points. One of the foremost is that prayer is always within a relationship. God is our Father and we are His child. Like any good Father, He only grants our petitions when they are truly good for us and the other kids. He delights to do so, but no good Father simply gives their child, whose understanding of the world is much less, whatever they want - the child may want something that will not do them good in the end.

“Our prayers to God are not unlike our requests of men. Our prayers are based in a relationship, as Jesus points out in Matthew 7:8. If a child asks his father for something the father knows to be hurtful, the request is denied. The child may be frustrated and unhappy when he doesn’t get what he asked for, but he should trust his father. Conversely, when the child asks for something that the father knows is beneficial, the father will provide it eagerly because he loves his child.”

“Elsewhere the Bible clearly stipulates conditions for receiving answers to prayer. For example, we are told that we must abide in Christ and have His Word abiding in us [John 15:7]; that we must not ask with wrong motives [James 4:3]; that we must have our earthly relationships in order [e.g., 1 Pet. 3:7]; and that what we ask must be according to His will [1 John 5:14]. While it is wrong to use these verses as excuses never to ask God for things, it is also wrong to ignore these verses and teach that one can get anything one wants in prayer.”

Hank Hanegraaff Article

Some Resources on Petitionary Prayer

Tim Keller answering the question, “Does prayer really change things?”

Here is another thread on Connect regarding prayer that you may find helpful.


(C Rhodes) #3

@rjscott Not to be over simple, but I actually use both forms of prayer, often together. I always seek the will of the Lord, but I always state my desire. My prayer closes with a personal conviction to follow GOD’s lead and trust Him for the ability to follow.

I may have personal desire regarding the outcome, but I trust the heart of GOD concerning me, much more than I do my personal desires. It is a win-win situation for me. If GOD’s best for me is not cohesive with my desire, its okay to relinquish my desire. I have found that GOD’s move is usually “two mints in one!”


(Jimmy Sellers) #4

This will be a slightly different angle on how 1st century NT church might have understood petitionary prayer.

David deSilva’s work was very helpful in helping me to understand several aspects of this thing we call “grace”. we always think of grace as a religious term, not so in the 1st century.

His position is for modern day westerner to understand the NT we need to understand the Greco-Roman culture of the day which was a culture that operated in a patronage and reciprocity system. As close as we get to it in today culture is what I would call back scrathin’ anything beyond that is suspect.

I was going to write a lengthy piece but I found this link that does a much better job summarizing the topic. It is based on the same book HONOR, PATRONAGE,KINSHIP & PURITY: Unlocking New Testament Culture by DAVID A. deSILVA That I reference above.

After you watch the slide show think on this quote from deSilva as it relates to petitionary prayer.

Why pray if God already knows our needs? Because God delights to grant favors to those who belong to his household. When we ask, we also have the opportunity to know the “blessed experience” of gratitude and live out our response (in fact, be ennobled by feeling grateful and responding to God’s grace). The result of the offering of prayers and God’s answering of petitions is thanksgiving “from many mouths,” the increase of God’s honor and reputation for generosity and beneficence (2 Cor 1:11). Prayer becomes, then, the means by which believers can personally seek God’s favor, and request specific benefactions, for themselves or on behalf of one another (see 2 Cor 1:10–11; Eph 6:19; Phil 1:19; 4:6–7; Col 1:3; 4:12; 1 Thess 5:17, 25; 2 Thess 3:1–2; 1 Tim 2:1; Jas 5:15–16; 1 Jn 5:14–16).

deSilva, D. A. (2000). Honor, patronage, kinship & purity: unlocking New Testament culture (p. 132). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

I hope this helps.


(Ryan Scott) #5

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I would like to push back a bit though. First, see the snippet below.

CS%20Lewis%20-%20Petitionary%20Prayer%20Snippet

Lewis does not deny the fact that we do not know what is best for us. The real problem is why did he give the specific promise that whatever we pray for we will receive. It seems like poor word choice. Lewis points out that Jesus prayed that the cup pass in the garden of Gethsemane. Did Jesus not have enough faith (James 1:6-8) for that to pass? Surely not. We are to model our faith off of Jesus, not improve upon it.


(SeanO) #6

@rjscott Yes, I read that bit of Lewis’ argument too. Just to say this - I am a fan of Lewis. He was key to the conversion of my imagination and I quote him regularly. He was a brilliant literary critic and thinker. But in this case I think some quite simple Biblical scholarship goes much further than any amount of philosophy. I really think there is no issue here if we apply some fairly basic principles of hermeneutics.

If this passage is read in context, rather than stripped out of context, it is apparent that Jesus is not saying you get whatever you ask for… It is not so much that Jesus made a poor choice of words as it is that we, as readers, are not being diligent in contextualizing Jesus’ statement. So I disagree with Lewis’ basic premise that there is even a conflict to be resolved here - I think the fault lies not with God’s Word but with the reader.

Jesus regularly used hyperbole that needed context to be understood. For example, Jesus also told us to hate ourselves and our families or else we cannot be His disciple. But it is obvious, in context, that Jesus was using hyperbole to teach us that we must put God first. We are not literally to hate anyone - but we need the context of Jesus’ statement to understand that fact.

Luke 14:26 - If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.

In the same way, when Jesus says that we shall receive whatever we ask for, there is a context. That context tells us what Jesus is trying to say - why He is making such an extreme statement. In addition, there is a similar statement in Luke does not say God will grant us anything we ask - but that He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. This broader context is also helpful and reminds us that God never gave us a blank check - He was promising us the Spirit to fulfill His Kingdom work and to be Kingdom people.

In short - there is no conflict. There is no poor choice of words. There are only readers who ignore the wider context of the statements being made. One explanation of how to read this passage in context is given below.

Matthew 7:7-11 In Context

Here is one article’s explanation of how to read this passage about receiving what you ask for in context.

“A fundamental hermeneutical axiom comes into play in 7:7-11. Matthew assumes that interpreters of these promises that God will give what petitioners ask have already read the Lord’s Prayer one chapter earlier! Thus they know that one must ask for God’s will to be done (6:10). The “ask, seek, and knock” clauses are not a blank check, but leave room for God’s desires to override ours. Such prayer “supposes a heart of piety” and “submission to God’s will.”[72] At the same time, James 4:2 teaches that there are some things we do not have because we have not asked, a possible allusion to this portion of the sermon (Matt. 7:7- 8). From a pedagogical point of view, Murray and Meyers helpfully explore the rationale behind this arrangement, observing that God’s choice to distribute certain (but only certain) blessings if and only if his people ask for them keeps them both from idolatry-thinking they can auto­matically manipulate God-and from merely presuming on his grace for everything to be given unconditionally. Good human parents do exactly the same thing with their children, which is Jesus’ precise point in 7:9-11!”

Does that help clarify my point? The Lord guide our study.


(Ryan Scott) #7

I want to be clear - I don’t disagree with you. I’ve made some of my own conclusions of responses to Lewis, but I’ve been dissatisfied with them and wanted to come here for some additional clarity, discussion, and insight. I greatly appreciate the effort that you’re using in your responses.

Let me diverge from the path a little and bring you this:

My main concern came from a point that Lewis states later in the essay that I’ve highlighted a few times already, namely how do we go about asking for faith. The hypothetical situation is that I may be a non-believer or skeptical Christian asking desperately for faith because I want to believe in who Jesus claimed to be and his purpose on Earth. But what if God doesn’t provide. Who does the blame lie on for the salvation of that soul? Is it my fault for not having enough faith, or God’s fault for not providing the faith to believe, even when approached and requested?

I opened a new can of worms here, but I think that’s the natural progression. Where does my own will, if it means the life or death of my own salvation, fit into a world based purely on the will of God?


(SeanO) #8

@rjscott Thank you for that clarification. It appears to me that your question contains a false dichotomy - that it is either God’s will or our will. In addition, whether or not God must give us faith before we can believe is a debated point among Bible believing Christians.

It is my own view that we freely choose whether or not to accept God’s offer of salvation. Once we know God, He chooses whether or not to grant our petitionary requests as a loving Father who is governing the whole history of the world that all people might somehow reach out and find Him.

@CarsonWeitnauer, in his below thread on fate, suggests three possible alternatives. We can substitute God’s will for fate in the context of our discussion.

1. Fate (God’s will) determines everything

2. I (My will) determine everything

3. Life is determined by both fate (God’s will) and our own decisions

In this thread I provide some resources for diving deeper into the Scriptures on the question of the source of salvation.

What are your thoughts in response to these ideas? Do they provide some additional nuance to your original question?


(Sven Janssens) #9

Maybe a simple reply, but it might add something to the debate

Last year I was asked to share something for a group of youth leaders and decided to have them have a glimpse of what we did with our youth; the Master Discipleship Course.

One part talk about John 15 were verse 7 states:
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

You can imagine that through the sharing someone commented by saying that we have to be carefull since we have to ask according the will of God.

My reply:
Jesus says: if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, …

That is being completely filled and covered by and with the word of God.

So if you are so permeated with the word of God, how would it be even possible to pray and ask outside of the will of God?

It is begging us to build our relationship with the Father, to fill and surround us with the Word of Christ, of God.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

My prayers are in that context. I pray and expect in submission to the will of God.
If we are still and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit then you will hear what is good to pray or not.
not after the flesh, but in spirit

  • I hope that this little part my help to get more insight in this dilemma

(SeanO) #10

@Sventje Thank you for those thoughts. I agree completely that it is very important to walk in the Spirit and to abide in Christ if we are going to pray in accordance with the will of God.

You asked - “If you are so permeated with the Word of God, how would it even be possible to pray and ask outside the will of God?”

Part of C. S. Lewis’ argument is that even Jesus asked that the cup should pass, but ultimately submitted to the will of the Father. In addition, we see that even Paul the apostle asked for something outside God’s will in petitionary prayer. He asked 3 times for the thorn in the flesh to be removed and yet his request was denied.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 - Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I think that this is where the question with petitionary prayer comes in. Even Jesus and Paul, due to their humanity, asked for things in their need that were outside the will of God. We all have that same experience. How do we make sense of that?


(Sven Janssens) #11

@SeanO Thank you for the encouraging words. I have to be honest that although I love logic and debate, that this forum is very different and challenges me. It will take me some time to adjust to this kind of sharing and debating specific subjects.

It makes sense to me having done counseling for a lot of years. I don’t think you can look at these passages from a theoretical perspective in order to explain what is going on.
Some things don’t seem to make sense, but yet do.

Let me try to explain, and I think you might get where I am going at;
Yes, first of all, both are human; Jesus and Paul and both do ask God from their heart. So, if taken the scriptures literally they should have received what they asked for.
But in order to be able to receive they need to have faith. Knowledge of what Gods will was.

Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Paul is not talking about the written word, but the spoken word that comes out of the mouth of God.
That is actually how Jesus worked; Doing what he saw the Father do and speaking what he heard to Father say.
And that is what we should do too.

(just reasoning here)

Jesus passion was to do the will of the Father. When He prayed, He did not pray in faith. He shared His heart with the Father, already knowing the answer. That is faith in the sense that He knew He had to die.
I believe He did prayed an emotional prayer. If He really wouldn’t want to die, I am sure He wouldn’t have, but He knew He had too.

At that moment there are two wants here

  1. Wanting to do the will of the Father
  2. Not wanting to die for our sin
    But I believe that in His heart it was already decided to do the will of the Father. That is why He proceeded, “Not my will be done, but Your will be done”.
    So in a sense He received what was in His heart; to do the will of the Father.

Paul is a different story. I use that a lot.
I would tell people in counseling or even in preaching or sharing, that whatever they ask, they will receive. Even if you don’t, at least push for an answer.
I believe that 2 Corinthians is a powerful and rich text that can lift us up out of our debts into the fullness of Gods will for our lives.

Three times he prayed the Lord and the Lord answered him.

I asked my youth group;

  • Imagine you would pray for an expensive race car, and you prayed for it. I believe that God might actually give it to you. But I also believe that prayer is an interaction between God and the person who prays.
    So, what if God would say; “Alright, you can have that car if you really want it, but that car will get you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life”; what would you want?
    All of them would drop the race car, no second thought.

I believe that God really goes for the desires of the heart and that they are good.
Although Paul wasn’t delivered from his thorn, His attitude chance completely for the good.
I believe that if he got what he wanted, that he would say yes.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore, Paul says, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Personally when I believe I can ask for everything and will receive everything, but my first prayer is to be fully in the will of God.
And sometimes I will pray God for a way out, while I know I can’t escape certain circumstances, because of the will of God.
And I don’t mind, because I have opened up my heart towards God and He hears me, but I will rejoice a lot more when I receive my hearts desire; to do the will of God.

But when I don’t know, I will stand firm in my prayer and go forward until God says differently. And somehow … you sometimes already know in your heart.

When talking with people in counseling you encounter a lot of these situations. People know and they know it is the right thing, but … they open their heart and hurt, not to get away, but to be able to share, to be able to be comforted.
But eventually they too receive what they really want.

I don’t know if that makes sense to you … it does to me :slight_smile:, a lot and it makes prayer less heavy and more free and open towards the Father.
I’m just taking Him at His word, knowing I’ll receive … if not, at least an answer that still will fulfill the desires of my heart.


(Ryan Scott) #12

@SeanO @Sventje Sean, you mentioned that my argument above “contains a false dichotomy - that it is either God’s will or our will.” I wholeheartedly agree. I’m trying to push the point beyond the common criticism of Calvinism suggesting we are only machines working through a God’s plan. I’ve always had a hard time with predestination and I’ve settled (for now) on other ideas. I’d like to briefly explain that for the context of this conversation and where I am coming from. It has given me a lot of peace and has helped explain some of my deepest questions relating to God’s sovereignty.

This alternative is the idea that God has access to the powers of predestination and foreknowledge. He can foreknow any and all possible situations, but can selectively predestine events as he sees fit. He does not predestine all events in order to maintain the free will that he has given us, but uses it to redeem humanity (insert gospel sermon here).

This idea is partially supported in 1 Samuel 23:1-13, quoted below. A brief explanation of this passage is this: David inquires of God about what will happen to him. God chooses to see in the future (v 11-12) and relays those visions to David. David avoids the verdict given by God by fleeing rather than staying in their current position. The answers God provides in verses 11 and 12 never ends up coming to fruition.

Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

“When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.”

I feel that this avoids the “machination of humanity” as well as the “master chess player” provided by the two opposing schools of thought on this. We can discuss this elsewhere, but be gentle with me on this point, predestination is a fragile subject for me.

Back to the point.

I think the best explanation for the argument by Lewis is that we are best off to pursue the will of God (thy will be done). However, we cannot only follow the will of God because we are weak. God uses our weakness (power made perfect in weakness) and responds to our brokenness by working with what we ask of him (ask and you will receive). The failure of this explanation is that it does not adequately consider the black/white result we are “promised” by scripture (whatever you ask). I unsatisfyingly concede this point by suggesting that this must be hyperbole.

Thoughts? I’d love to be able to just hammer out a satisfying answer to Lewis’ question, but I don’t know that there ever will be one.


(SeanO) #13

@rjscott Thank you for explaining in more detail your own views on sovereignty. Have you ever considered molinism? It is the view held by Dr. William Lane Craig and sounds like one approach that might be compatible with your view. I have included some resources below.

I think I have always found this verse from Deuteronomy helpful. God’s main goal is that we might know Him and be known by Him - not know how the decision making process works.

Deuteronomy 29:29 - The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Personally I do not share C. S. Lewis’ dilemma because I think the Biblical text simply does not say that we get whatever we ask for… However, he was a brilliant man and I certainly think if he struggled with a question without finding a satisfactory answer then it is okay that we do as well. The Lord Jesus grant you peace and wisdom on the journey.


(SeanO) #14

@Sventje I am glad you are stepping out and taking this opportunity to engage and learn. Praise the Lord that you have a sense of freedom in prayer! I believe that comes from resting in the grace of God in Christ Jesus and walking in obedience to God’s commands.

To be honest, if a kid from my youth group came up and told me they prayed for a race car, I would tell them to get a job and make some money. That is how you get a car. I would probably also go through a spiritual health check list:

  1. When you pray, what exactly do you pray for?
  2. Do you spend time in worship when you pray? (Think ACTS - adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication)
  3. Are you spending time in the Scriptures?
  4. Are you obeying God’s commands or are you knowingly violating them in some way?

If you are doing all of those things and still praying for a race car - get a job, make some money and enjoy your car if you still have peace using the money that way. But make sure the car is not coming before God, your family or helping those in need. Make sure your desires are not being conformed to the world. Nothing wrong with enjoying a fast car - but be careful of idols.

James 4:3 - When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

I John 5:21 - Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

That issue aside, I admire your steadfastness in prayer. I think that is very important - to seek the Lord with persistence.

Regarding trusting our hearts, I think we must be very careful. The Bible is clear that in order to discern good from evil we must be mature in our faith. Our hearts can deceive us - our emotions are unstable. We must learn over years of walking with Christ and studying His Word to discern good from evil - to compare our desires against God’s Word and to know whether they are for good or ill. I do not think this type of wisdom is cheap - I think we must pursue it with all of our being in order to truly begin to achieve it.

2 Corinthians 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Hebrews 5:14 - But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


(Sven Janssens) #15

@SeanO Thank you so much for your reply, patience and encouragement. (believe me when I say I do need to two latter ones) :slight_smile:

When using the example about a race car with our youth, that is because they can relate to those material things, and I can work with that to pull them into the spiritual part of who God is.
Also I use examples like that because I want them to feel free to ask whatever they want from God, in prayer, bold, before the throne of God.
And with that they learn to communicate with God and listen to find Him in their every day live.

I will take notes on this subject and find reason in it for me.

Being honest on this community, for me it is overwhelming. So much information, so many subjects, questions and replies. I have no idea where to look first. I feel like a kid in a candy story, and on the other hand everything seems so much out of my league, :slight_smile: , remember that I am not an educated man at all, yet called into ministry and have been working with people the most part of my life.
I will take every opportunity to read and to explore everything I get my eyes on.
That aside

Again thank you for your part in this journey and for your patience.
Bless


(SeanO) #16

@Sventje Thank you for that reply. May the Lord bless your humility and desire to grow in the knowledge of Christ and may your ministry produce much fruit for His Kingdom :slight_smile: Excited to have the chance to dialogue with you and look forward to many future interactions.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #17

If we got everything we prayed for, we would, in effect, “become the god of God.” We can see a similar situation in Matthew:
Matthew 4:5-7 KJV
[5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, [6] And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

I heard Ravi Zacharias speak on this once, that if Jesus jumped to prove to the devil that he is the Son of God, he’d dictate where, when, and for what purpose he “uses” God (to prove a point, etc). God would become just a means towards his selfish ends. No one wins except the devil.

Edit: just remembered an example from C.S Lewis’ Narnia series. In the first book, when Uncle Andrew sees how the lamppost grew and thought of how he could use Narnia to travel back and forth and become rich off of Narnia (sorry, i can’t recall exactly what it was he wanted to do).


(SeanO) #18

@O_wretched_man I believe Uncle Andrew wanted to plant steel bars and have them grow and sell the steal so that ships could be built and sold. Likewise, he wanted to plant gold and have golden, trees, etc. I also believe he wanted to charge money for the elderly live there and feel better from their physical ailments. He had lots of money making schemes.

Reminds me of the old saying: Seek the Giver rather than the gift and you get the gift thrown in, seek only the gift and you get neither in the end

Few Lewis quotes along these lines:

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. C. S. Lewis

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. C. S. Lewis

Romans 8:32 -He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #19

Yes I underlined the first Lewis quote you gave in my copy of Mere Christianity. Thank you for refreshing my memory, and God bless!


(SeanO) #20

@O_wretched_man Mere Christianity is one of those books where I it is so easy to underline nearly every other sentence. It was key to my growth in Christ as a teenager. Blessings to you as well!