Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Prayer mojo


I think it likely that some Christians have more prayer mojo than others. 1 Cor 12:9 refers to a gift of faith. In context, that can't mean garden-variety Christian faith, since every Christian has to have that kind of faith to be Christian in the first place. Moreover, the whole passage is about different Christians having different gifts. So it must refer to a special kind of faith. And prayer would be a natural outlet. So it's likely that some Christians have more prayer hits than others. Some Christians may well have a gift for petitionary/intercessory prayer. God makes greater demands on some Christians that others, so there can be compensations or corresponding abilities. 

11 comments:

  1. Do you think this changes your impression of James 5:16?

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  2. Not especially. James probably has in mind efficacy related to sanctity rather than a gift of faith.

    In addition, James 5:15-16, is a group prayer thingy. If the prayers of some Christians are more efficacious, and one of them happens to be on the elder prayer team, then the prayer for healing is more likely to be efficacious, not due to the group but that individual. Yet that's coincidental. The individual rather than the group makes the difference

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  3. A bunch of people, John Piper, Lee Gatis, John MacArthur, Sam Storms and Graham Cole would agree with you that said verse is referring to a special gift of faith. JMac very strongly connects this special gift of faith to prayer. Cole thinks that "James 5:15 with its reference to the 'prayer of faith' and healing the sick might be an example of how this charismatic gift of faith shows itself, as C. Samuel Storms suggests." (He Who Gives Life, pg. 255.)

    Anyway, the above is not exactly what I wanted to comment on. Here is the thought:

    1) I think that there is also such a thing as a gift of prayer. This is a case where a person can just pray voluminously in all kinds of ways, and all kinds of times.

    2) If you have the a special gift of faith, then you likely also have a special gift of prayer. However if you have a special gift of prayer, it does not necessarily mean that you have a special gift of faith. (Althought you likely will see many more answers just simply because you pray so much.)

    That all said ... on a somewhat humorous aside, it is said that Smith Wigglesworth, once while prayer requests were being taken, said "I don't need to pray. I have faith."

    ~ Raj
    P.S. I think Mark 11:24 is speaking of the special gift of faith. But another day...

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  4. Even "Praying Hyde" (i.e. John Nelson Hyde) admitted that not everyone is called to serious intercessory prayer like he was.

    George Mueller made a distinction between the Grace of Faith and the Gift of Faith. I agree with his distinguishing names, but disagree somewhat with his understanding and application of the two. He wrote:

    //"It pleased the Lord, I think, to give me in some cases something like the gift (not grace) of faith, so that unconditionally I could ask and look for an answer. The difference between the gift and the grace of faith seems to me this. According to the gift of faith I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, the not doing of which, or the not believing of which would not be sin; according to the grace of faith I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, respecting which I have the word of God as the ground to rest upon, and, therefore, the not doing it, or the not believing it would be sin. For instance, the gift of faith would be needed, to believe that a sick person should be restored again, though there is no human probability: for there is no promise to that effect; the grace of faith is needed to believe that the Lord will give me the necessaries of life, if I first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness: for there is a promise to that effect. (Matt. vi. 33.)"//
    END QUOTE
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26522/26522-h/26522-h.htm

    There are a number of healing evangelists I admire [past and present]. One early 20th century one was Charles S. Price. He taught in his book The Real Faith that faith for healing was always the gift of God. I don't know if he held that view for all of his ministry, or [as I suspect] only in the latter part of his ministry. As a Continuationist Calvinist I think both the Grace of Faith and the Gift of Faith are gifts of God. The difference is that the latter is more manifestly an endowment and an infusion of faith that goes beyond one's usual experience of faith. I think Charles S. Price's statements for healing faith in his book, without him knowing it, actually refer to the Gift of Faith. In distinction from him and Mueller, I do think that the Grace of Faith can be developed so that more answers to prayer can result. But it can never be developed to a degree and level that it matches the efficacy of the manifestly supernatural charismatic Gift of Faith. Some of the stories Price recounts in his book are really interesting.

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    1. I didn't mean to imply that Mueller didn't think the grace of faith can be developed. He did. As a number of quotes of his I've collected prove. I meant to say that I disagree with Mueller that the grace of faith cannot be developed for healing. I think it can. In God's sovereignty of course, since I'm a Calvinist. I think his understanding that one can stand on the promises of God using one's grace of faith in order to obtain our necessary material needs is true for healing as well. He just didn't think it applied for healing.

      I believe the Bible unconditionally promises healing if we will have the faith for it. I just disagree with Arminians that faith is ultimately up to us. It's the gift of God. While I disagree with my fellow Calvinists that since faith is always the gift of God [which is true], that we may not have warrant to believe for the healing of every sick person [which I think is false]. The error I believe is in thinking that since God doesn't decree the healing of everyone, we therefore may not have warrant to seek to exercise our faith for everyone's healing. As Calvinists we don't have that attitude regarding other aspects Christian living. For example regarding justification or sanctification. If the usual Calvinist attitude regarding healing were applied to justification and sanctification, we wouldn't encourage people to believe the Gospel until they received the gift of faith for it or until they received a special revelation from God that we're now supposed to [or now have permission to] appropriate the blessing with confidence. Same thing with sanctification. As Calvinists we don't conclude that since God ordains all of our sins that we shouldn't strive for perfect holiness. Rather, we live by God's prescriptive will, not His decretive will. I just take that principle further regarding healing. The promises are clear that, if you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). That all the promises of God are "yes" and "amen" in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). That the "...prayer of faith WILL save/heal/sōsei the sick..." (James 5:15). Without the gift of faith we never know in advance whether God has decreed that He will heal someone in instance X, OR whether God will endow us with the Gift of Faith or develop the grace of faith for instance X. So, we might as well pray according to God's revealed will that He "forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases" (Ps. 103:3).

      My views on faith and the supernatural are very similar to Vincent Cheung's. I just strongly disagree with his Clarkianism and his overly harsh criticisms against cessationists. See for example his following articles which I linked to in one of my blosposts.

      Faith Override by Vincent Cheung
      All Things Are Yours by Vincent Cheung
      The Extreme Faith Teacher by Vincent Cheung

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    2. Hello AP,

      So I read GM's autobiography in 2018-2019 at roughly 1-2 pages a day. I deliberately read it slowly because I wanted to be constantly challenged to exercise faith and just to realize God's sufficiency for every situation. It was indeed an invigorating read. One of the best in my life.

      So that said, even though Müller claimed not to have the Gift of Faith, it is hard to accept that. This is because the sort of stuff that went down in his life just does not happen in life of ordinary Christians. I mean technically most of what he exercised was the Grace of Faith since it is connected with the "necessaries" of life, however ... this stuff just does not go down in our lives. It is almost as if his grace of faith is in a category of its own. It is quite unusual.*

      If you do not mind - a question or two, since you seem to have read a lot of Xtn Bio:
      If Müller did not have the gift of faith, who then has had it? I cannot think of anyone outside of the NT times. Well maybe Jerry Falwell, but ... Perhaps some of the folks you mention who had the gift of healing because if you have the gift of healing, then it seems that a precondition for that is the gift of faith.

      Also one of the things that struck me while reading the Müller autobiography was that so many of the trials were about the same thing. So many of them were about the dire need for food or money for the food.

      I am wondering if you know who is out there that either had the gift of faith or exercised the grace of faith at the intense level of Müller and yet faced all kinds of things, whether it be health issues, finance issues, house burning down or whatever. If you know of anyone, please let me know.

      In Him,
      ~ Raj
      *I am aware of some critique by Dabney and others (e.g. pointing to Müller's Annual Report). I am not convinced.

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    3. First off I want to make clear that I'm a Continuationist Calvinist/Reformed Charismatic who has gleaned from various Christian traditions including Reformed, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Holiness Movement, Wesleyan etc.
      I don't expect or insist on others holding to my convictions. Since it took many years for me to come to them gradually step by step. As an example of how my theology has gradually changed, my current views I would have considered heretical 25 years ago. According to my Calvinism, I think that in God's sovereignty He can and sometimes does perform signs, wonders, miracles and healings with very little or in the absence of faith. According to my Continuationism, I don't think that's God's usual way, or even His "Method" [i.e. prescribed/advocated way]. Which is in accordance to our level of faith. [cf. Matt. 8:13; 9:29; 9:22; 15:28; 17:19-20; 21:20-22; Mark 5:34, 36; 9:23-24; 10:52; 11:22-24; Luke 7:9; 8:48, 50; 17:6, 19; 18:7-8, 42; John 11:40; Acts 3:16; 14:9-10 etc.]

      Mueller did think and say that he sometimes received the gift of faith on certain occasions for specific issues. But that he normally operated in the grace of faith. He also believed that his grace of faith is the same type that every Christian has, but that he developed it down through the years. And that every Christian can and ought to develop their grace of faith. See my collection of quotes by Mueller HERE for proof of my assertions.

      //This is because the sort of stuff that went down in his life just does not happen in life of ordinary Christians............. It is almost as if his grace of faith is in a category of its own. It is quite unusual.//

      But you don't know whether on such and such occasions whether he was operating in the gift of faith or the highly developed grace of faith. Just because we normally don't see those types of things in the average Christian's life doesn't necessarily mean that Mueller was wrong that every Christian can develop the grace of faith to those levels. We must also realize that he developed his grace of faith through many years and many trials. Trials tend to either weaken faith or strengthen faith. Just as trees can be strengthened or destroyed by storms. Trees constantly stressed by storms are often very strong, while trees that are used to fair weather can often break at a slight increase in the breese. Mueller intentionally put himself in situations where his faith would be tried/tested and he developed his faith like we would exercise our muscles. The more or less you exercise faith, the stronger or weaker it gets.

      //Perhaps some of the folks you mention who had the gift of healing because if you have the gift of healing, then it seems that a precondition for that is the gift of faith. //

      I disagree. I think the grace of faith can produce partial and/or progressive or complete healing. Often depending on the level of faith developed.

      You ask two questions: 1. who do I suspect had greatly developed grace of faith, as well as 2. who has exercised the gift of faith. From my reading it's often difficult to determine when a person was operating in the gift of faith since the same people who do so often have been living lives of strengthening their grace of faith. They sometimes didn't know themselves when they were operating on their normal faith (what I would call the grace of faith) or the gift of faith. And on occasions they did know. I already said that I suspect Charles S. Price operated in the gift of faith for healing so often that he assumed [I think incorrectly] that that was the only kind of faith that can result in healing. Every Christian has the grace of faith and [IMO] they develop it at different levels in different areas [e.g. material provision, finances, healing, soul-winning, etc.].
      CONTINUED

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    4. I think Mueller had a high level of faith for provisions, but lower level for healing. He wasn't convinced that we have Biblical warrant to always aggressively seek healing, provision etc. for ourselves and others, as is my opinion. And that's despite the fact that I believe God has decreed some some people not be healed, or have their needs met etc. As a Calvinist, I believe God is sovereign over our right and wrong convictions [or lack thereof], and so He didn't intend Mueller to have a high level of faith for healing. It would have interferred with God's providential purposes/plans.

      There's no point in making two lists of people. A list for those who operated in the GRACE of Faith and another list for those who operated in the GIFT of Faith since they often overlap. Usually because the same people who operate in Gift of Faith often have been living a lifestyle of strengthening their grace of faith.

      Here's a list of people, past and present, who in my FALLIBLE opinion I suspect operated in extra-ordinary faith. I could name MANY more, but these are representative. Some of the folks belong to more than one category or transcend any specific categories. So, I'll group them in ways that aren't necessarily accurate. Some are more famous than others. Some had more dramatic supernatural ministries than others. And obviously, my agreements and disagreements with their theology varies from person to person and topic to topic.

      Lutheran: Johann Christoph Blumhardt; Dorothea Trudel
      Anglican: Jim Glennon; Mark Pearson; Herbert Pakenham-Walsh; Dennis J. Bennett
      Catholic: Francis MacNutt
      "Holiness Movement": E.E. [Enoch Edwin] Byrum; G.C. Bevington; O.L. Yerty; Charles Cullis; William H. Hinkle; A.B. Simpson
      Pentecostals: Smith Wigglesworth; John G. Lake; F.F. Bosworth; Charles S. Price; Lilian B. Yeomans
      Charismatics: Roger Sapp; Curry Blake; Ken Blue; Michael Yeager; Charles and Frances Hunter
      Calvinist: Andrew Murray; Vincent Cheung;
      General "Evangelical": R.A. Torrey;

      I've linked to many of the materials by the above folk in my Blogpost HERE. Being included in the blog doesn't necessarily mean I endorse their theology and/or person, as I made clear in the preliminary caveat. I may accept aspects of a man's theology and be suspect of the person, or be confident of the person but not completely agree with his/her theology etc.

      I've also collected some Quotes on Faith.

      Some biographies are written at THIS WEBSITE.

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    5. The following is a reworked version of a comment I posted but disappeared. Not sure if that was because something went wrong with my browser, or because it was deleted by a Triablogger for being unacceptable. In case it was the latter, I've re-written it to be less offensive. The former version wasn't meant to be offensive. I used terms like "extreme" and "balanced" in a relative sense given the two extremes on the spectrum regarding the issue of the supernatural. I also used "respectable" not in scare quotes, or mocking quotes, but to refer to leaders in the Evangelical world who are more popular and well received because they don't take controversial positions. And so less theologically threatening.

      rgbrao, from my limited understanding of where you're coming from spiritually, I suppose a book I could recommend that might serve as a starting bridge between our theologies would be R.A. Torrey's book Divine Healing. Torrey was the second president of the Moody Bible Institute and close friend of D.L. Moody. He's well known for various reasons, including his popular book How To Pray. He's not "extreme" enough for me, but he qualifies as falling under three useful criteria at high levels 1. well known, 2. "balanced", 3. standardly Evangelical. I highly recommend his book even though I have some disagreements.

      Andrew Murray is just as well known [if not more so], but more extreme in his theology of healing in his book and therefore would be considered less balanced by standard Evangelical views on healing. "Balanced" of course is a relative thing, for a Hyper-Dispensationalist, John MacArthur might be considered too charismatic. Just as Wayne Grudem would be considered too charismatic for MacArthur.

      A third person that fits the three criteria I mentioned above would be A.B. Simpson. Founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination. The most famous pastor of which was A.W. Tozer. A.B. Simpson's theology of healing would also be considered extreme by others [not me]. His two books devoted to healing are, The Gospel of Healing, and his book The Lord for the Body.

      Finally, A.J. Gordon is probably as balanced as R.A. Torrey, more scholarly, but probably less personally miraculous. He was founder of Gordon College and the famous seminary Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary. His seminary is more famous than he is. He wrote the book The Ministry of Healing which deals with the doctrine of healing and the evidence from history of the miraculous in the church. He documents the miraculous from the church fathers, through the reformers down to his time. It's a MUST READ as an introduction to the topic. All the books I mentioned in this comment are linked on my blog.

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  5. God is, if I may so say, at the command of the prayer of faith; and in this respect is, as it were, under the power of his people; as princes, they have power with God, and prevail.- Jonathan Edwards
    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works1.ix.vi.iii.html

    The Lord not only allows his people to put him in remembrance of his promises and prophecies, but to plead for, and, as it were, require the performance of them; and so the words are an encouragement to the importunate prayer of faith. Faith in prayer has great power with God, a kind of command over him; it holds him to his word; it will not let him go without the blessing; nor let him alone till he has made good his promise; nor give him any rest, day nor night, till he has fulfilled the things to come concerning his sons.- John Gill Commentary on Isa. 45:11
    https://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/isaiah/45.htm

    “As I am sure that a certain amount of leverage will lift a weight, so I know that a certain amount of prayer will get anything from God” (MTP 11:150).- Charles H. Spurgeon
    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons11.xiii.html

    “The streaming wounds of Jesus are the sure guarantees for answered prayer” (MTP 11:149).- Charles H. Spurgeon
    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons11.xiii.html

    Lord, thou callest thyself the God of all grace; and whither should we go with our vessel, but to the fountain? Lord, thy grace may be imparted, yet not impaired. Has not Christ purchased grace for poor indigent creatures? Every drachm of grace costs a drop of blood. Shall Christ die to purchase grace for us, and shall not we have the fruit of his purchase? Lord, it is thy delight to milk out the breast of mercy and grace, and wilt thou abridge thyself of thy own delight? Thou hast promised to give thy Spirit to implant grace; can truth lie? can faithfulness deceive? God loves thus to be overcome with arguments in prayer. - Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments
    https://ccel.org/ccel/watson/commandments/commandments.vi.vi.html

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    1. "[P]rayer may be bold and free. We need not hesitate to imitate the sublime 'cheek' of the child who is not afraid to ask his parents for anything, because he knows he can count completely on their love."- J.I. Packer, Knowing God, chapter 19, p.192

      "Believe that God hears, and will in due time grant, believe his love and truth; believe that he is love, and therefore will not deny you; believe that he is truth, and therefore will not deny himself."
      - Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments

      "Remember, also, that God delights to bestow blessing, but, generally, as the result of earnest, believing prayer."
      - George Mueller

      “I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming. Thousands and tens of thousands of times have my prayers been answered. When once I am persuaded that a thing is right and for the glory of God, I go on praying for it until the answer comes. ” – An Hour With George Müller, The Man of Faith to Whom God Gave Millions, by Charles R. Parsons

      And to the faith that knows it gets what it asks, prayer is not a work or a burden, but a joy and a triumph; it becomes a necessity and a second nature.
      -Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, 31st Lesson

      "Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.' "
      -Andrew Murray

      Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray!- J.C. Ryle, Commentary on Matthew [The context is praying for God to call laborers for the harvest]
      http://gracegems.org/Ryle/m09.htm

      Never, never, never renounce the habit of prayer, or your confidence in its power. Charles Spurgeon
      https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/pray-without-ceasing#flipbook/
      http://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/1039.php

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