f The Wittenberg Door: June 2015

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

God’s sovereignty and The Purpose of Prayer

There’s a lot of bad information about prayer floating around. And for someone like me, who is not naturally inclined to hitting his knees, the subject can seem daunting. So it is with great delight that I came across this short survey on prayer at In Christ. Authored by Paul D. Adams, the focus study is how our prayers and God’s sovereignty intersect. He does an excellent job of dispelling the concerns many people have regarding that topic.

But what struck me the most was not the doctrinal aspect, but the practical. I have long since resolved the apparent issue between God’s sovereignty and our prayers; but prayer itself, in my day-to-day living, that is another story entirely. Because of this I was most taken with his section titled, Thinking about Prayer, where I found help by reminded as to why I’m praying in the first place:

  1. Prayer, at its most basic level, is an expression of our dependence upon God.

  2. Our purpose in prayer is to glorify God by seeing him actively accomplish his will here on earth. God, not us, must be the center focus of all our prayers and it is his will and not our own that we must pursue.

  3. Submission and solitude are essential ingredients in Jesus’ prayer life and should be in ours.

  4. Our intention in prayer should be that we recognize how God is working in and through circumstances, rather than merely change them.

  5. Thankfulness for God’s movement in the lives of our brothers and sisters allows us the opportunity to see God’s work in others and helps us avoid self-absorption.

  6. Prayer for knowing God better, gaining special insight into our eternal hope, and for power to live for God’s glory should govern all other requests.

  7. When we pray, we should emphasize a growing love for one another, pure and blameless living, and all that accommodates our maturity in Christ.

  8. A depth of insight into the limitless dimensions of Christ’s love for us can only be gained by prayer.

  9. God is more interested in us than in what we want and he occasionally denies our requests so that his glory and our good will be optimal.

Click here to read the entire post.

--The Catechizer


Friday, June 05, 2015

Today in Church History: Old School-New School Division

On June 5, 1837, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. separated into Old School and New School divisions.

The split involved a series of issues related to theology, polity, and social reform (especially debate on the Presbyterian response to slavery). The Old School consisted of doctrinal conservatives mainly in the Mid-Atlantic states and the South; the New Schoolers were progressives concentrated in New York, New England, and the western frontier. The 1837 General Assembly, meeting with an Old School majority, abrogated its 1801 Plan of Union with the Congregationalists, it pronounced that action retroactive, and it thereby declared that four New School Presbyterian synods brought in by that plan “to be out of the ecclesiastical connection of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America.”

This Assembly action launched a 32-year division between Old School and New School Presbyterians. In 1869, the two parties were united in the North, soon after the end of the Civil War. In the words of Princeton historian Lefferts Loetscher, the reunion of 1869 resulted in a “broadening church,” where organizational efficiency eclipsed theological precision. By the close of the nineteenth century, northern Presbyterians would experience both significant growth and advancing secularization.

- John Muether