The Right Prayer

I may be theologically wrong on this, and I am open to correction, but I never pray to God for some material benefit for myself, such as being healed of sickness or pain. To me that feels like tempting—i.e., testing—God. Also, if the prayer is not answered, I feel disappointed in God and my faith is damaged. Yes, I know that most Christians regard an unanswered prayer for a healing of disease as really a blessing, because God in letting me continue to suffer has a better, higher purpose in mind for me, which I may not understand, but nevertheless I must accept that it is so. Again I may be out of out of step with Christian orthodoxy in this; nevertheless I just can’t relate to it.

However, here’s a prayer that feels right to me in my circumstances: that I ask God for the grace to endure my pain and suffering. That is not asking for a material benefit, but for a spiritual capacity and virtue.

— end of initial entry —

March 16

Lawrence B. writes:

I am writing to send you my best wishes. The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself; it is not impossible that you will make a full recovery.

I know this because I survived a terrible lymphoma twenty-five years ago, back when all the best doctors were telling my parents that I wouldn’t last through winter.

For myself and apparently for many others, your blog has somehow become one of the most personal blogs alt-rightosphere. I read the comments from the people who support you; I read about your own condition which resembled my own. Among alt-right blogs, yours is uniquely engaging and person-to-person.

As a person who has been there, I remind you that your condition is absolutely not pre-determined.

Charles T. writes:

I wanted to send my thoughts in a spirit of encouragement and fellowship about prayer and walking through difficult times. This is a mysterious subject and I do not have all the answers. However, I offer these thoughts that I have learned along the way.

You wrote this about prayer; “However, here’s a prayer that feels right to me in my circumstances: that I ask God for the grace to endure my pain and suffering. That is not asking for a material benefit, but for a spiritual capacity and virtue.”

I think that this is right because endurance and perseverance are part and parcel of the Christian journey. This journey involves following the Lord through good and difficult parts of our lives.

I also think it is right and good to bring our personal sufferings, longings, and/or our need for relief to the Father. Since he is our Father and he is concerned for his children, it is only right and good for a son to petition his Father for help. The Book of Psalms is filled with petitions from believers and these petitions can be ours as well.

Enduring while praying for relief simultaneously may seem to be irreconcilable, yet, I see many of the heroes of our faith doing this in scripture.

Also, being frustrated or disappointed with God, at times, is not a lack of faith. It is wrestling with faith.

We are praying for you here.

Terry Morris writes:

Why can’t you relate to it? If someone asked of you a particular kind of blessing, and you, seeing the big picture and understanding that to honor his request would tend rather to harm him than to help him, would you go ahead and honor his specific request or deny it, opting rather to assist him in a way that is truly in his interest? I could give you many examples, but I doubt that is necessary.

(P.S. My first rendition of the above included the gender-neutral, plural pronouns “them,” and “their” referring to the generic male pronoun antecedent “him.” Years ago you corrected me for doing that, and I have never forgotten the lesson. But old habits are hard to break.)

LA replies:

I can’t relate to praying for material benefits for myself because in my perhaps mistaken view that is not true religion. Religion is following God, loving God, seeking to be united with God. But throughout history many or even most religious people—of all religions—have in my view too much seen God as an entity from whom to ask for things for oneself, a wife, a job, the healing of a disease. That is natural to people but such petitionary religion is not where it’s at.

Jesus said that in everything he did, he sought to please God. And, when he said that, “many believed on him.” Only in the most desperate, horrible circumstance did he pray for something personal for him, “that this cup might pass from me.”

Also, Jesus said regarding the worldly things that people need: “Seek out the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Meaning that you don’t ask for personal things, but you seek to live in union with God’s will, and then the good things you personally need will come to you without your directly praying to God for them.

March 17

Kenyon H. writes:

I have followed your blog for many years and have gloried in soaking up the intelligence streaming down the mountain. For me, it was like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hydrant. It was just too powerful for me, but I coped. I read and reread and was able to absorb some of the information.

God bless you.

On another subject, I read you saying that you do not ask God for any material benefit for yourself in your prayers. You should start. If Abraham’s servant had not asked God for Rebekah to come to the well in order for her to become the wife of Isaac, you would not be here. See Genesis 24. Abraham’s servant asked God to send a girl to the well, and her reaction indicated that she was the one for Isaac. Rebekah came to the well, and gave the servant water and also fetched water for his animals. Read the rest of the story.

God has a huge storehouse brimming full of good things, just for you, but you must ask. You and I both will be surprised when we get to heaven to see what is left over in our “storehouses.” God’s timing is not our timing but ask anyway. You may be surprised.

God bless you Larry and now I will go back to my plodding on your stuff!

LA replies:

It’s a wonderful story, filled with deep emotional resonance.

But Abraham was a man uniquely close to the LORD, being chosen by him to be the father of a people “as numerous as the stars in the sky.” That people was the Hebrews, later called the Jews, and with the Christian dispensation that people became also the Christians, who obviously match the description “as numerous as the stars of the sky” much better than the Jews do.

Throughout his life Abraham was directly led and helped by God. He was under a covenant to obey the LORD, and Abraham’s wise servant understood all that when he prayed to God concerning the coming of Rebekah to the well.

To make a gross understatement, I am not in the same relationship with God as Abraham—the God-led father of both the Hebrew people and the Christian people—was.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 15, 2013 10:21 PM | Send

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