Friday, March 30, 2007

Are Thinking and Prayer Opposed to Each Other?

Here's the scenario:

You're sitting in your small group or a Bible study and you've come to a difficult verse or passage. One person says they've studied the passage using commentaries, lexicons, and the like and have thought a lot about (comparing Scripture with Scripture). They then offer their understanding of the verse or passage. After that, someone else says, "Well, I prayed about it and I think this is what it means. I didn't need to read all those books."

What you've come to in your group is an unnecessary collision between thinking/reasoning/rationality and prayer/faith. One side we have those who seem to believe that the truth of Scripture can be mined without prayer (or at least very much of it). On the other side we have those who operate under the assumption that thinking and reasoning aren't even needed to understand God's Word. In the evangelical church today, the second group is by far the largest. For many, the study of Scripture comes down to asking the Lord to "whisper the answer in your ear," so to speak. Study, therefore, and the use of your mind, has very little place in our Christian life and may even be dangerous. (I'm confident that I'm not overstating the last statement because I've heard it personally a number of times.)

This kind of dichotomy is wrong! Thinking and prayer are not enemies to us as Christians. We can find proof of that in the Scriptures themselves. "Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." The apostle Paul made that statement to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:7. Paul is telling his young mentee Timothy to consider (or as the ESV puts it, "think over") what he says and writes, for (or "because") the Lord would give him understanding and insight in everything. Notice that both thinking and prayer are emphasized by Paul - not one or the other!

Should we think - and think hard - about what we find in the Bible? Of course we do! Especially whne we come to hard passages. Should we pray and ask God to give us understanding in everything? Of course we should!

Are thinking and prayer opposed to each other? No, not according to the Bible!

How about this: study the Word of God with all the faculties of your mind while on your knees - hard and good thinking that is soaked in prayer.

You think about that (to use a phrase from Steve Brown).


Post a Comment

<< Home