Does God have to Tell Me to Pray?

9651008070?profile=originalI listened to a conversation between pastors John Piper and Rick Warren recently. From their theological towers, one can barely see the other’s camp on the edge of the horizon. Piper, a died in the wool Calvinist, wanted to talk with “whosoever will can come” Warren about Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. While the two could have staked out their own territory like medieval lords protecting their castle, they lowered their theological drawbridges and met in the valley to honestly talk about faith and life in Christ.

At one point Warren said “When I find two scriptures that seem to be opposed to one another, I accept them both.” So when Piper asked his friend about Calvin’s predestined approach to salvation, Warren replied that he accepts the idea, that God draws men He foreknew and predestined to salvation. He also believes that whoever confesses Jesus as Lord becomes part of God’s family, and that the door is open to every man - opposing ideas, yet one faith. Warren was comfortable with a God who is bigger than his own understanding.

I have a similar problem with two other scriptures. I hear Christ-followers say “I felt the Lord prompt me to __ (fill in the blank here) ______,” and so they make sure to do, or not do ____ (whatever) _________. This personal interaction with God is like a faith merit badge, worn as proudly as any Eagle Scout’s sash.

At the same time, friends from the less charismatic crowd tend to focus on obedience. They study scripture and are so sure to follow the biblical principles that the idea of hearing God’s voice is almost unnecessary. Their lives are often stable, prosperous and fruitful . . . evidence of God’s presence.

A vital prayer life and prayer ministry has to move out of the “either / or approach” to an intimate relationship with God, and embrace both hearing and obeying God’s voice.

  • If we only do that which we feel prompted into, we become selfish, self-focused children. We demand God meet our requirements, rather than opening our hearts to follow his. 
  • If we only act on what we read in the Bible or learn in a Sunday school class, we become stale, and quite the opposite of the “hear before we obey” crowd. We miss the prompting of the Holy Spirit because He often doesn’t fit into our programs. God asks us to change, take risk, and move into new territory.
  • If we use our comfort zone as an excuse to nullify our brother’s approach, we miss the blessing of what God can, and wants to teach us. We risk becoming bigoted, closed hearted, and quenching the Spirit we so desperately need.

Even the quickest historical survey reveals that the men through whom God changed the world were men who lived by both creeds. No one had to tell Wesley, Spurgeon, Wilkerson or Moody that God’s heart was broken over poverty, orphans, and widows. They preached the word in season and out, ministered to the poor, and listened for God’s voice on a daily basis.

The man who won me to Christ had this plaque on his desk.

All Word and we dry up.
All Spirit and we blow up.
With the Word and Spirit, We grow up.

Jesus demonstrated both. Shouldn’t we?

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  • Great words of wisdom! I grew up All Word and by my twenties found myself quite dry. Then I was exposed to All Spirit - some things were great there but yes self centered. Now I am learning to find a balance though I attend an All Word church which can be difficult because they people have no inclining that the Spirit could lead them. Thanks for sharing

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