Not a Dichotomy

I Hear Complicated Prayers

I have a concern for many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems like many Christians think that the Bible disagrees with itself. When we accept and embrace dichotomies (i.e., division) in our faith, we develop weak spots in our armor that weaken our faith and hobble our prayer life.

I hear complicated prayers from Christians that are not resting in the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. God knows the intentions of our hearts. We can’t cover our weakness or confusion by adding disclaimers to our prayers. 

Do Verses in the Bible Disagree?

Let’s consider an example of an apparent dichotomy in the Scriptures. Consider these two passages.  

  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  1. Brothers, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25)

If all things work together for good to them that love God, then why pray? Why not just claim the promise in Romans 8:28 and skip the prayer? Ah, you didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Well, as you remember, we always interpret Scripture with Scripture; anything less is worth-less. So, we know that Jesus prayed (Luke 5:16). Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus told His disciples that there were things they couldn’t do without prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). Jesus taught us to ask, to seek, and to knock (Matthew 7:7)…incessantly (Luke 18:1-8).

So, it is clear in God’s Word that it is God’s will for us to pray. And God does answer prayers. 🙏 

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

Therefore, if God changes time and circumstances in His loving response to the prayers of His children, then what does the apostle Paul mean in Romans 8:28?

I think we need to visit what the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

We see in Philippians 4:6 both the imperative to pray and to appeal (i.e., supplicate), and to not worry and to give thanks. The Holy Spirit has not left us any room to worry. So, the “don’t be anxious” in Philippians is the outcome from obeying Romans 8:28’s “knowing all things work together for good.”

By interpreting Scripture with Scripture we now know that we cannot fulfill God’s command in Philippians 4:6 unless we fully embrace Romans 8:28 and 1 Thessalonians 5:25.

No Dichotomies in God

From this brief exercise, we’ve discovered that two verses that appear to conflict with each other are actually dependent upon each other in order to fulfill the Holy Spirit’s Truth contained in Philippians 4:6. God’s Word is so awesome!

When it comes to our relationship with God, we need to know what we believe in and resolve anything in us that is confusing, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Don’t allow yourself to live with dichotomies in your faith. It is vital to know what you believe and to verify what you believe with what the Bible teaches. Dichotomies of faith are like arthritis in the joints of our body. They are a spiritual irritant and, left unchecked, will deform our pure faith. They will cause us to be weak when we need to be strong.

Photo by James Heilman, MD / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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