Premises for prayer

by
March 23rd, 2021

My friend Hal is a lifelong Christian Scientist who is in the very early stages of questioning the Eddy doctrines and losing patience with some aspects of the CS culture. After reading my new book Discovering a Larger God and commenting favorably on it, Hal asked how I as a Bible Christian would go about praying for several situations that are troubling him at present.

I emailed him some thoughts in reply (see below), but then it occurred to me that my custom, since leaving CS years ago, of addressing Jesus by name when I pray might be disorienting and distressing to him.

So I wrote Hal again the next day, explaining that the approaches to prayer which I suggested, all proceed from three simple premises that Mrs. Eddy never taught me. Those premises are:

1. Jesus is real. More than just “the highest human concept,” He is alive and supernaturally powerful, fully God and fully man, delighting to fulfill my petitions, seated now at the Father’s right hand and interceding for me when I pray to Him.

2. The problem is real. Not just a seeming or a belief, it is there and it’s a big deal. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s more than I can metaphysically “handle” on my own. It must be defeated and removed, not merely un-seen.

3. I am personally seen, known, cherished, and actively helped. Through the blood of the Cross I have God as my adoptive Father and Jesus as my adoptive elder Brother. They relate to me intimately as a saved sinner and call me by name as a rescued sheep. I and they are in a “thick” relationship as personalities, not a “thin” one as mere ideas.

Based on these premises, the entry points for prayer that I gave my friend were as follows. Hal first asked how he might pray for a relative who is plagued by constant fear stemming from childhood traumas. I suggested he start this way:

Jesus, Great Physician, you can heal hearts as well as bodies. You can restore the lost years and erase the traumas of the past as no human hand or helper can do. Your whole purpose in living and dying and rising again was to show us we need not be afraid. Please move in this loved one’s deepest being, remove the fears rooted there, and establish a new trust through your perfect love made known to us on the Cross. 

Then Hal asked how to pray for someone who has become addicted to harmful habits. I suggested this:

Lord Jesus, you set the captives free and take the rebels captive. No enslavement to drugs or any other false master can resist your liberating touch upon those who bow and submit themselves to you. No stubborn will can make your loved ones refuse to bow and submit. In your name we pray this addiction begone, Satan and his demons begone, Christ’s peace and purity be established in a human heart made new.

Then Hal asked how to pray for adult children in dysfunctional relationships. I suggested this:

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, you as the Trinity show us by example what all relationships of mutual love and respect and support and affirmation are meant to be and can be. Please put X and Y in right relationship with each other by reorienting their hearts first vertically to You and then, as a result, horizontally toward each other.

Finally, Hal referenced conversations we’ve often had about America’s political turmoil and rancor. What would be my entry point for prayer about that, he asked. I suggested this:

King Jesus, Ruler of the nations, Lord of history, please bring revival in our land, beginning with your faithful followers in the Church. Steady us and calm us one by one regardless of the outward turmoil between angry voices and factions, as you have promised in Psalm 46. Fortify us in the city of God, buoy us up in the river of God, make our hearts be still in the assurance that you are God.

Of course there’s much more to be said in praying for situations such as those, I told my friend. But these examples will serve to show how I’d begin.

Will Hal take up this time-tested approach as I have? Probably not right away, as it’s so foreign to his CS “know the Truth” approach, ingrained since he was small.

It’s almost shocking for the Christian Scientist to be told that (1) Jesus is real, (2) the problem is real, and (3) he or she can be personally seen and helped by this very Jesus. Yet those are the facts of the matter. Those are the Christian’s only valid premises for prayer.

Holy Spirit, please help Hal see the royal welcome that awaits him at the throne of grace when he cries out in this way to You and the Father and the Son.

The author can be reached at andrewsjk@aol.com

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