Monday, 22 August 2011
J.B.Phillips and prayer
The Price of Success: J.B.Phillips pages 61-62
A few reflections:
1. Phillips seems to be a little disparaging of his "newly acquired faith of an almost literal kind" yet at the ame time acknowledges the "simple naive childlike faith" that it elicited. Isn't there a connection between the two? Aren't we in danger sometimes of missing the point of the Bible and reading it academically when it is meant to be read with "simple naive and childlike faith"? That is not to pay down the need for some care with some passages of the Bible, but to acknowledge that "too much analysis can lead to paralysis" when it comes to stullifying faith and damping down zeal.
2. The point is that Christ's promises in particular should be taken at face value much of the time, for the "kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (children)" (Mark 10: 14-15)
3. One of the major problems is of course what to do when we do take prmises at face value, show naive childlike trust in God, and then find that nothing happens? We can, as i have done, over examine things and interrogate myself whetehr the conditions were right, my motives wrong or, as all too often is the case, the Bible actually can be understood in that way. I wonder if that is, however, the right approach? Is that the way trust runs between child and Father? Better surely to shrug our shoulders, say "Father knows best" and just carry on, regfusing to allow ourselves to stop trusting Him and asking Him to show us if we went wrong or it was a matter of "no" or "not now" or of "keep praying"..
4. Sometimes I wonder whether our early prayers, when we first started to believe, so encouraged us that we matbe began to become a bit selfish? "If God answers prayer I can ask for anything" sort of approach. Certainly sin can creep in and adulterate our faith and our subsequent praying.
Ultimately we should "keep praying and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1) although most of us do sadly, or simply put down our early efforts as just coincidence or a foolish and childlike reading of the Bible. How much prayer and power is lost in the process? How much more could God have accomplished if we had just, at least in respect of prayer andthe Bible, stayed little children?
The following is a sermon I gave in response to some concerns raised about our application for a Lottery Grant to renovate our church and ch...