Do you talk to God? Ok, so maybe you pray. That is not really anything new.
But how does He talk to you?
First off, what is the reason for your prayers? Maybe it’s for one of the reasons below.
- Atonement – to ask for forgiveness.
- For protection
- For guidance
- To be relieved from pain and suffering
Do you Pray for Favors?
Some people ask or petition God to attain something of temporal value such as achievement or wealth sometimes masked as “favor” from God. This however, is nothing more than a vanity per the scriptures.
There are 158 instances where God’s “favor” is mentioned in the Bible. However, the term “God’s favor” is very often misunderstood. The scriptures and/or their translations are really somewhat at fault in this case actually. It’s due to an inconsistency. Most Bible scholars will say that “favor” is a gift of divine kindness from God given to humans who may be undeserving of such a gift.
Such “favors” are sometimes described as blessings as in the following verses:
Proverbs 8:35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
Other times, favor is mentioned as a bartered gift for an offering to God as in the following verses:
Genesis 4:4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
Genesis 32:4 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
Thus, a lot of the confusion on what is meant by “favor” is due to this inconsistency between a blessing and an exchange of offerings and gifts.
However, the following verses about favoritism dispel any misconception about favor being a divine gift and not really a temporal gift as a reward for an offering.
1 Timothy 5:21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
The key to understanding “favor” is that it is understood to be a gift given so that such “favored” individuals may act upon God’s behalf in some way.
Is God Your Therapist?
Others pray to have direct conversations to know the mind of God or maybe to better understand themselves in the process. Sometimes they will have debates or will just ask for confirmation for their understanding. There is nothing wrong with this type of prayer as it solidifies faith and it has been found to benefit one’s mental health.
Did the Prophets Pray?
Maybe you’ve wondered whether prayer was how the prophets talked to God or at least how they knew the thoughts He put into their minds. Did they ask to know such divine wisdom via prayer?
The Divine Gift and Mystery of Prophecy
If you’ve ever wondered how God talked to the prophets, or why they were even chosen to bring forth His messages, it is not really answerable other than to say that such unlikely messengers were chosen by Him as they were deemed to be the most capable. They did not pray to become prophets. Additionally, if we compare some of the characteristics of the prophets, we will see that there is no correlation between the type of lives they led, their occupations, their wealth, etc.. Thus, the mystery of their choosing is not really within our Earthly means of understanding.
The Origin of Prayer
We first see the word “prayer” mentioned in the Book of Genesis. Prayer is actually mentioned 367 times in the Bible and most instances have to do with the aforementioned requests for protection, guidance and strength as well as others for healing and warnings.
A Handbook for Prophets in the 21st Century:
It is well known that there were periods of prophetic “drought” in the Bible. The first was the 400 years of the absence of prophecy between the last Old Testament prophet (Malachi) and the prophets within the New Testament. The last prophet was John of Patmos with his end of times Book of Revelations foreseeing things to come.
However, not all prophets spoke of the future. Many prophecies actually fell into three categories with regards to time.
Prophecies of Past History were the prophet’s way of relaying their messages of God’s purposeful intervention in historical events.
Prophecies of the present day, likewise, were intended as explanations and to raise awareness of current events and whether or not such events and the people subject to such were either in alignment or misaligned with God’s purpose.
Finally, prophecies of the future would tell of events and turmoil that would precede the two appearances of the Messiah.
In today’s world, apart from the usual “gloom and doom” armchair prophets who communicate their thoughts about the coming end of the world, there are many who spend an exorbitant amount of time being social scientists, data analysts and mathematicians in a likewise attempt to empirically forecast things to come.
They typically compile statistics on human behavior, historical events and other global patterns to ascribe a mathematical model to be used for predicting the future. Most of this analysis is engineered to predict the supply and demand for resources as well as the probability of global and national crisis.
Hence, there is not usually an attempt to close the loop with regards to religious prophecy. However, if we take such present-day science into a Christian perspective, we can use such statistical data to forecast both the past, present and future states of belief. Now, it can be argued that such analysis created by man cannot equate with prophetic messages from God. This is obviously true. However, it can also be argued that the responsibility of all followers is to maintain the Christian message by all means available. Thus, if such mathematical tools facilitate the identification of variables which influence Christianity, it would be in the best interests of followers to use such methods to identify patterns of:
- What variables strengthen Faith? (i.e., Biblical understanding, Prayer, Church attendance, etc.)
- What Weakens Faith? (i.e., poor understanding of religion in history, no mention of religion in secular school systems, etc.)
- What causes variability between such?
- What are the global forecasts for religious disparity?
What Compels Us to Reveal Prophecy?
You may think that such quasi-prophetic science would interest anyone. But this is not always the case. There are actually two problems with getting people on board to digest such “religious science”. One relates to getting people to buy into a purposeful existence. The other relates to continuously communicating the message.
Christians and other believers have really had an uphill climb when debating any predesigned purpose for human existence in the 21st century. Existentialists, Absurdists and Post-Modern Relativists threw down the gauntlet of their atheist agenda in full force during the 20th century and much of the present-day secular world still follows much of their incomplete, misguided mantra.
To be clear, there have always been detractors and adversaries of religious faith. This is nothing new. If the aforementioned prophetic drought continues, there are two things that need to occur if Christianity is to remain viable in the coming centuries.
For all believers and “statistical non-secular prophets”, it is our responsibility to use whatever modern-day form of communication available to continuously communicate His message. We are after all debating many adversaries who likewise use any and all media to do their sociological damage. It is only fair to join them in battle on a level playing field.
The well-known and great lesson from the Book of Jonah is never to shy away from communicating messages from God. Remember that knowledge equates with responsibility. Is it imperative that all men and women communicate faithfully what we see. Whether in any guise of our present-day existence, on any root or plain of this Earth, we can only pray that we do if only this.