"bathed in prayer"

From: Randy Isaac <rmisaac@bellatlantic.net>
Date: Sun Apr 03 2005 - 14:51:24 EDT

I'd like to get back to the "bathed in prayer" thread, despite its inauspicious origination. The phrase bothered me too, and then it bothered me that it bothered me until I reflected that there are several uses of prayer that bother me. I'll briefly note four of them.

Dating prayer. When I was a student at Wheaton, a chapel speaker cautioned against a couple praying together on dates, especially early in the relationship. The concern was that praying together has a powerful influence and a couple may misinterpret that bond of prayer as a sign of God's leading them to marriage, overlooking basic differences in personality.

Athletic prayer. I'm all in favor of athletes being Christians, sharing their faith publicly, and being good role models for our youth. But the proliferation of public prayer and "credit to God" at games leaves me ambivalent. If all these prayers were a grateful public acknowledgment of God as Creator and Maker of athletic ability and enjoyment, that would be great. But I suspect all too often the prayers, implicitly or explicitly, turn into a plea for victory, or a sign of God's favor after winning. With both sides praying, is it a matter of who prays the most fervently? (P.S. for you BB fans, Roger Powell, the star for Illinois last night, is a minister in the Mt. Zion Full Gospel church. He actually does a good and balanced job of sharing his faith. His team respectfully nicknames him "the Rev")

Decision prayer. When any of us face a tough decision, we rightly turn to prayer for wisdom in making a good decision. But I've learned the hard way that a decision that I've "bathed in prayer" and felt was right, can sometimes turn out to be the wrong decision. In management decisions where people's jobs are affected, this has particularly bothered me. I know a common view is that "it really wasn't a wrong decision, it just seems that way from a human perspective" but I find that to be one of many trite rationalizations we too often propagate in our churches. Yet the recognition that "bathing a decision in prayer" doesn't necessarily make it the correct decision has led me to much greater humility and more willingness to listen to critics and alternative views. So it bothers me when decisions are justified by the intensity of prayer surrounding it.

Creationist's prayer. Getting back to Burgy's being bothered by the creationists' having their conference "bathed in prayer," I think we can be glad that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and praying together to the same God and Creator. And we are all in accord with seeking God's wisdom in these matters. But I suspect we may be rather suspicious that the "bathing in prayer" will also be used as a means of conveying more credibility to the conclusions being presented. A scientific audience wouldn't be influenced but the church laity would likely be reluctant to criticize any technical-sounding scientist whose conclusions are "bathed in prayer." Perhaps we're bothered not by the presence of prayer, but by the potential misuse of prayer as a validation of the conclusions. And by the possibility of their using prayer as a call to victory rather than to a fair game.

I do hope that all our ASA meetings will be bathed in prayer as well. But I also hope that no one uses that prayer as a means of indicating we have the "right" answer.

Received on Sun Apr 3 14:54:00 2005

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