Preach Your Thoughts, Not Other People’s Cliches

Along with “yes,” “no,” and “maybe,” God also answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

I have no idea if God answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.” I kind of hope He does! But I get nervous about putting words in His mouth. I’m no “Jesus Calling” author over here.

The basic point of this tweet was to challenge our flippant answers about biblical subjects.

Prayer is a subject discussed with much goofiness. When I was a kid I remember hearing the “yes, no, and maybe” deal about God answering my prayers. What kind of teaching is that? That’s how anyone answers a request. That’s not really teaching anything; that’s just pointing out reality. That’s what my mom will do if I ask her if I can have a cookie.

Plus, how does that answer the statement of Jesus Christ that if you ask anything in His name He will do it? “No” and “maybe” don’t seem part of that verse. Perhaps there are larger issues at work.

“Does prayer work?” has been a long standing question. There’s only one reason this is even a question: because prayer doesn’t work. If prayer worked then no one would ask this question. Therefore, simply by the existence of the question we can know that prayer does not work.

Now, answering why it’s not working has a manifold answer that would require a 65 point sermon, which is not the aim here. I’ll let you preach that one!

My point is that pastors are up against much bad teaching. In order to teach people what the Bible says, you first un-teach what Christians have heard from other Christians.

Don’t know if you know this or not, but what most Christians believe is based on other people’s opinions, not the Bible. I’ll let you pause and recover mentally and emotionally from the shock of that statement.

Fragments of verses stand in for biblical wisdom. We are not an informed group of people. I use “we” because pastors are at fault here. We haven’t done well in teaching the Bible. We’re repeating what Calvin and Luther and Piper and MacArthur say. That’s fine to use those guys for insight, but if you’re repeating them instead of analyzing what they say in your overall contemplation of the Bible you are doing yourself and your church a disservice.

Don’t tell people that God answers prayer with “yes, no, and maybe.” No kidding. That is not helpful. Really think about prayer. Think about David’s prayers in Psalms. Think about Jonah’s prayer, Jeremiah’s prayer, Elijah’s prayer, and include all the stuff Jesus said about how to pray, including analyzing His prayers. There’s way more to it than a snappy, clichéd answer.

Stop telling people that grace means “unmerited favor.” They’ve all heard that. They know that. It’s so familiar to them it has stopped meaning anything. That answer has become shallow and clichéd, and possibly not even biblical.

Enough with “justified means just as if I’d never sinned.” Just stop it. Justification means way more than that. And don’t forget that justification is a part of salvation; it’s not the whole thing.

Give people some depth. Show them that you’ve thought and struggled through your doctrines. Put these things in practice.

Trust me, if you’re a praying person the “yes, no, and maybe” answer is going to be unsatisfactory to you. Not sure a praying person could possibly have those words come out of their mouth when discussing prayer.

Come on! Hash this stuff out yourself. Use some originality. Not brand new, out of nowhere, probably heresy originality either. I mean find a personal way to express it based on your personal experience putting these truths into practice backed up with your practical, regular study of Scripture.

Bottom line:

 

Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
–1 Timothy 4:15-16

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