Re: [asa] prayer & God's response / intervention

From: Merv <>
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 08:32:30 EST

I agree that hyperbole is present in Scriptures, but the problem with
this instance is that it isn't without support. Jesus seems to
reinforce it with the story about disciples eventually doing greater
things than even He is -- casting mountains into the sea (though this
does have the added implication that doubt will hinder the request.)
I know there are several answers to this as well -- it could be yet
another instance of hyperbole to make a spiritual point (or that it's
the spiritual mountains that get moved.) Or that even physical
mountains do eventually get cast into the sea -- but in God's time, not
ours. But these do strain the credibility a little on how first century
Semites may have taken it. As distant as we may be from their
conversational practices, it seems a stretch that they would have taken
these at face value. Wouldn't the point of these claims be that
NOTHING is above or beyond God's doing for those who at least have faith
the size of a mustard seed? So why should certain miracles never
happen? Is the world really so devoid of faith?


Robert Schneider wrote:
> "Whatever ye ask..." may be one other of the many instances of
> rhetorical hyperbole found in the gospels (e.g., "all Jerusalem" came
> out to hear J. B.), and is not to be taken literally. We moderns are
> not schooled in the conversational practices of first-century Galilean
> semites.
> Bob
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Merv <>
> *To:* <>
> *Sent:* Sunday, December 10, 2006 5:46 PM
> *Subject:* [asa] prayer & God's response / intervention
> I would like to get any responses any of you care to give to the
> excerpt below -- especially the part I emphasized. (from Philip
> Yancey's recent book "Prayer", p. 237.)
> As we have seen, Jesus himself set limits to the requests he
> made. "Take this cup," he asked, and then added the modifier
> about the Father's will. He prayed that Peter's faith would hold
> firm, but not that Peter avoid all testing. He declined to pray
> for angels' help in rescuing him from execution.
> So, too, do we all set limits to our prayers. Some things we
> can ask for unconditionally, such as forgiveness, and compassion
> for the poor, and progress in growing the fruit of the Spirit.
> Other requests are conditional, such as Paul's plea for relief
> from the "thorn." _***Some we refrain from asking out of respect
> for the natural laws that govern the planet.***_ [Emphasis
> added] I pray that God will help my uncle cope with diabetes,
> but not that God restore his amputated leg. Nor do I pray that
> God would shift the orbit for the planet Earth to counteract
> global warming. Instead, I ask what my own role should be in
> helping my uncle and in addressing environmental concerns.
> [end of excerpt]
> While I think Yancey's approach is right-on, I can't help thinking
> that the skeptics find it convenient that prayers are limited to
> the possible things. Evangelical "faith-healing" churches will
> often have walls displaying discarded paraphernalia such as
> crutches or wheel-chairs, but you never see any glass eyes there
> or prosthetic limbs cast away after a real limb is miraculously
> replaced. It just doesn't happen. Or as Yancey noted in the
> same book, some diseases defy miraculous cure --- pancreatic
> cancer, ALS, or cystic fibrosis --- Yancey says he there hasn't
> been a documented healing of such (and he gets thousands of
> correspondences regarding answered and unanswered prayers alike.)
> So should we accept "natural law" as a limit to God's works in
> light of his apparently lavish promise that "whatever ye ask ..."
> ? Of course, Yancey treats the balance of Scripture which
> tempers such apparent promises with others like in James --- you
> ask but do not receive because ... But that doesn't undo the
> fact that Jesus' statements at time include no such qualifiers and
> we are forced (much to the skeptic's delight) to infer qualifiers
> based on actual experience.
> --merv

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Received on Mon Dec 11 08:30:45 2006

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