Are you an Arminian on your knees and a Calvinist on your feet?

Are you an Arminian on your knees and a Calvinist on your feet? May 25, 2011

At the risk of undoing all the good will I tried to create with my Arminocalvinist spectrum I want to speak briefly today about prayer. Now, to my Arminian friends please don’t hear me wrongly. For this blog post to work we have to accept a bit of a stereotype on both ends of the spectrum.

For it was a tweet today from Driscoll that reminded me of something and made me think. Driscoll said “Every Christian who prays is functionally a Calvinist who believes in the sovereignty of God.” Now, it is easy to read a tweet like that and immediately think of the Arminian. It is not the first time that someone has said that every Christian is a Calvinist on their knees. Spurgeon famously spoke about this very idea and claimed that there was no such thing as a truly Arminian prayer.

But that wasn’t what struck me about Driscoll’s quote. I instead was thinking about the opposite. “A Christian who does not pray is functionally an Arminian who does not believe in the sovereignty of God” or perhaps “who believes that it is down to man to do everything.”

Now, I know that most Arminians do believe in God’s sovereignty. But, my question for myself and for you reading this is simply this, do I pray like a Calvinist should? I do not mean like a Calvinist is rumored to pray…ie not at all because he just leaves everything to the sovereignty of God. No, I mean, do I pray like I really believe that God is in control of the universe and that he has committed himself to answering prayer, and therefore my prayers are not just bouncing off the ceiling? Do I pray like I believe my prayers can make a difference? Do I pray like I actually expect God to answer them and act?

Maybe I should pray like a reformed charismatic should. In other words with great confidence in the power, authority, and degree of influence that God has over the world, married to great confidence that he hasn’t changed and he is therefore willing, able, and ready to act.  In contrast to this, could it be that over our lives, our churches, it could be written “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58).  May those words not be true of us!

Oh God, please teach us to pray. Teach me to pray. Stretch forth your hand to stir us again and to save!

Am I an Arminian on my knees? And when I get up on my feet again, do I go forth about my day not actively pursuing opportunities to serve God? Surely I should work for Jesus as though I was an Arminian, though knowing that it is God who gives the fruit?

So in contradiction to my title, shouldn’t we, as the saying goes, be a Calvinist on our knees and an Arminian on our feet?

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