Categories
Prayer

If all things happen according to God’s will, why pray?

 large__2380543038The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and providentially orchestrates all things.   In the Old Testament even the unbelieving king Cyrus of the Persian Empire is called “God’s servant”, because he, unknowingly, carries out God’s purposes.   In the Bible God is always pictured as in control of all things, even natural disasters, the throw of a dice and the feeding of birds.  Here is the question: if all things happen according to God will, why should we pray (or do anything)?

William Carey, the famous missionary to India, was at a meeting of ministers in England to raise money for his missionary trip to India.  One older minister stood up and rebuked Carey.  “Sit down, young man”, he said, “if God wants to save the heathen in India he will do it without your help or mine.”

Does the sovereignty of God, like this older minister supposed, excuse us from prayer and missionary endeavour? In answering this question, we must ask two more questions:

Categories
Prayer

Why only Christians can pray

prayerOn Saturday morning we ended our church’s mission’s month with a seminar presented by Bishop Frank Retief. One of the topics covered was, “Why pray for missions?” In introducing his subject, Frank made the point that only Christians can pray. I’m assuming that we all understand pray to mean: speaking to God. If there is only One True God, only prayer directed to him will be heard and answered.

Categories
Ephesians Prayer

How to pray for power

powerA lot is said about power these days.  Power evangelism.  “Powerful” church services.  There is even a power-Bible.   Is praying for power wrong for Christians?  Does it conjure up images of witches and warlocks mixing potions and reciting spells, while requesting power from some evil, occultic being?  Is prayer for power legitimate and biblical?

Categories
Ephesians

A praise-song for Africa

praise singer
Praise singer for Jacob Zuma

A key figure in the Xhosa tradition is the imbongi or praise singer. The praise singers traditionally live close to the chief’s “great place” (the cultural and political focus of his activity); they accompany the chief on important occasions – a praise singer preceded Nelson Mandela at his Presidential inauguration in 1994. The praise songs generally give tribute to and acclaim to the actions and adventures of chiefs and ancestors. The apostle Paul ended his prayer in Ephesians chapter one with a kind of praise-song.
  

Categories
Ephesians

A Prayer for Africa (Ephesians 1:15-19)

African prayerEphesians ch. 1 has a great prayer for Christians in Africa, especially considering our backdrop of African Traditional Religions with their strong belief in spirits, spiritual powers and the influence of the ancestors.

Thankful for your faith

(15) For this reason I also having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and the love towards all the saints, (16) I never cease giving thanks for you. (Ephesians 1:15-16)

Paul began his prayer by thanking God for his readers – the Christians in Ephesus. In Ephesus it was not unusual for families to offer public thanks to the Greek goddess Artemis, such as dedications inscribed in stone. In 1:15-23 Paul wanted to publicly thank his God. The reason Paul thanked God refers back to 1:3-14, especially 1:13-14, where the eulogy was applied to Gentile believers who were now in Christ and on an equal footing with Jewish believers. Paul had good reason to thank God for his work in the believers’ lives, especially because the Ephesians had heard and believed the gospel and were sealed with the Holy Spirit. The phrase “having heard of your faith” explains why Paul was giving thanks and. The brevity of this thanksgiving report may give credence to the theory that this was a circular letter intended to various home churches. It should be remembered that Paul had not been in Ephesus for a few years and there were most likely many new converts whom he did not know personally. The recipients’ faith was “in the Lord Jesus”. Their faith was originally in Artemis, but now it was in the Lord Jesus.