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Prayer and our Walk with Jesus

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Question #1:   Being patient for your responses are always well worth the wait because they always give me the answers that I need to grow spiritually and in truth. I have somewhat an odd question and I hope that it isn't the type of question that isn't worth the asking. I was wondering if there are examples of how we should pray in regard to our position (e.g., kneeling, closing our eyes, etc.). Is it disrespectful to pray with our eyes open, or standing? I pray whenever I get the chance to. Sometimes I pray with my eyes open. But when I'm at home, I pray kneeling, with my eyes closed, and aloud. Does the bible give specifics on how prayer ought to be performed?

Response #1:  Certainly, there are examples in the Bible of very respectful postures for prayer (kneeling being the most common), but the Psalms of David indicate to me that he prayed frequently during times of extreme danger (in battle, for instance) and at various other times when he was also otherwise occupied (tending sheep; traveling from one place to another). Abraham's servant prayed to the Lord even as he was riding his camel (Gen.24); Elijah put his head between his knees while praying for the return of rain (1Ki.19:42). Overall, I can think of no passage which commands any particular posture for prayer above all others.

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting
1st Timothy 2:8 KJV

Note prostration and kneeling are not really conducive to the above. I think it is safe to say that certain postures / behaviors may indicative of our attitude but not necessarily so. The Roman church is big on kneeling et al., but prayers from unbelievers are not "received better" because of the posture of those praying. God knows what is in our hearts. If we are being disrespectful in our attitude He will know it even if we are prostrating ourselves; on the other hand, if we are humbly seeking Him, He will know that too, even if our posture is not "traditional". As long as our heart does not condemn of us of being disrespectful in the way we are praying, in my view it is always good to follow the scripture and "pray without ceasing (i.e., continually: 1Thes.5:17)", something that cannot really be done if we were restricted to kneeling or prostration in order to pray effectively.

Please see also the following links:

The Lord's Prayer

Can Prayer be Offered to the Son?

Can Prayer Be Offered From Heaven?

Praying for Wisdom

Corporate Prayer: "When Two Agree on Earth" (Matt.18:19)

Cumulative Prayer

Jesus' Prayer's in Gethsemane

Holding up Holy Hands

Imprecatory Prayer

Prayer (in Peter #7)

Prayer for Failing Faith

In the One who knows and sees all things, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hello--Thanks again for your help on the Pastoral letters. So far, my correspondent hasn't answered me, when I put all your info on the CARM boards, plus the stuff I found out from those two books, which I e-mailed you. He is probably digging up more examples of "scholars" that agree with HIM, lol!

And Zahn probably is Theodor Von Zahn. Our Lutheran Cyclopedia lists 5 Zahns, all related, either brothers or cousins. An Adolph Zahn was a scholarly expert on the OT and defended orthodoxy. But Theodor did indeed write a bunch of stuff on the NT. So you are probably correct.

I have a quick question for you, vis a vis John 14:14. You know that some bibles have the "me" in there--'Whatever you ask ME in MY name, that I will do." Some do not. I notice it is the older translations, like the KJV and ASV that do not. However, even the RSV doesn't have it. But the NASB, ESV, NIV, and others DO. Do you know off-hand the preponderance of the "me" in the ancient Greek manuscripts? Is it there in just a few, half with and half without, or in most of the manuscripts? Does the Sinaiticus have the "me"?

Thanks.

Response #2: 

You are very welcome. As to your new question, "ME" is indeed the correct reading at John 14:14 (see the link: "Can Prayer be Offered to the Son?"). Not only does Sinaiticus have the Greek word me, but also Vaticanus and the Bodmer papyrus (which may date as early as the second century). There are a smattering of witnesses that either leave "me" out or replace it with ton patera (i.e., "the Father"), but defending the originality of "If you ask me anything in my Name, I will do it" is a pretty easy call in textual criticism, given the quality and quantity of the support for the inclusion of the word "me". Most of the modern versions reflect this. KJV and Wycliffe predate the discovery of the best witnesses (including the three listed above) and the ASV, the "newest" version I could find which does not read ME, began to be translated and compiled before any of these manuscripts came to light.

To me, this verse also makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of our close relationship with Jesus as His Body and His Bride: we have special access through Him as we belong to Him "body and soul".

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus in whose Name we pray.

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Hello Sir,

Yes, I was receiving your replies. Not all my e-mails were reaching you, in fact one out of 10 reached you; that is why there was a little confusion. I always reply back, usually, at around 5 to 6 in the morning when I receive your e-mails. I start replying immediately, but because of the language barrier, it takes at least 45 minutes for me to reply. And believe me Sir, you are the first person I am writing e-mails to (regularly), so most of the time I have no idea what to write or how to ask.

Things are ok. Lord is testing me. I am happy that He is testing me and at the same time I am also scared because of taking wrong decisions. My faith in Him is strong and growing (and I hope it grows stronger till my last breath). Apart from my temper I have nothing to lose!

In Him

Response #3: 

I am very encouraged by your continued perseverance in the faith of Jesus Christ! Please keep it up. And do not worry about making wrong decisions. You only need to ask yourself one question: "what is the right thing to do". When you have answered this truthfully, not out of self-interest or fear, not out of pride or worry, then you have the correct course. And in all these things, wherever there is doubt based upon complicated situations, our Lord always responds to prayer.

It is true that sometimes we have to wait for an answer. Zechariah, the father of John the baptist about whom Jesus said "among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the baptist", waited a very long time for his answer. We know this for in Luke 1:7 we are told "they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years". We can safely assume that Zechariah and Elizabeth both began praying very soon after getting married when no child was forthcoming. They might have waited ten years or longer, yet they did not waver in their faith as is clear from the scripture's assessment of them: "both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly" (v.6). It takes quite a strong faith not only to continue to pray for something over so long a time including after it came to seem an impossible thing, but also to restrain oneself from blaming God. It would have been easy for this couple who were clearly good and godly, when they saw all their less than godly and even their sinful neighbors being blessed with offspring and themselves without child, to find fault with God, or at least to lose heart and stop walking as good people of God, or at the very least to stop praying. But scripture tells us they remained godly; and they continued to pray. For as the angel Gabriel himself tells Zacharias, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard" (v.13). And how marvelous an answer it was! For not only did God give them a son He gave them the greatest of the Old Testament prophets outside of the Messiah Himself.

Praise the Lord that He doesn't make us wait that long for the things we need here and now! But even if we have to wait longer than we would ever imagine, and even if we have to keep praying right through the point where it seems impossible that the help we need will ever come, let us not lose faith, let us not lose hope, let us not stop praying, but let us be confident instead that God will answer us as He has promised, in His own way and in His own time, and for our absolute and first best good (Rom.8:28).

(6) Don't worry about anything, but in everything let your requests be made known to God in prayer and in petition with thanksgiving. (7) And the peace of God which surpasses every thought will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
1st Peter 3:12 NIV

Your friend in Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Hi Doc!

Do you think that perhaps the reason why there isn't revivals is because of lack of prayer? I find it amazing how some pastors and evangelists would devote so many hours prayer.

They would rise in the early morning and pray from before sunrise til sunrise. And taking time out during the day for prayer, and then ending the day with a long prayer session before they went to bed. It seems to me that the key factor of a great revival was prayer. Do you agree?

Response #4: 

I certainly would agree that the role of prayer is pivotal in all Christian activities, personal spiritual growth and broader revivals of the Church included. To look at it from the other point of view as well, the fact that there is not as much genuine, Spirit-filled prayer as was the case in times past is an indication of the low spiritual state of the church-visible at present. It has ever been true that God honors everything we do in genuine response to Him, and that is certainly true of prayer. One point to note here also is what James says about prayers, namely that "the prayer of a righteous man availeth much", or, put another way, the more we advance spiritually, the more effective our prayers become (cf. Heb.5:7). Of equal importance is the content and quality of our prayers. Jesus warned us against the hypocrisy of those who "for a pretence make long prayer" Matt.23:14 KJV) and told us "when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matt.6:7 NIV). Jesus Himself spent all night in prayer before He chose the twelve (Lk.6:12). That was a very important decision, and I have no doubt that our Lord was praying for those He chose and those He did didn't choose, knowing full well the challenges that would come to the former and the disappointment of the latter. We can be sure that even though He spent the whole night praying, He didn't waste a single word. That is "long prayer" that impresses me. The types of prayers you relate bother me a little bit. If a person really has so much they need to pray for, then such a long prayer is wonderful. However, God is not likely to be rewarding someone for praying pointlessly just for the sake of making a show about being able finish a "prayer Marathon". After all, how do we know that these individuals prayed so long . . . unless they told someone.

"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."
Matthew 6:6 NASB

In our dear Lord Jesus, who hears all our genuine prayers,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

In John 14:21 Jesus tells His followers that He will manifest Himself to those who love Him and in 1 John 4:19 it says that He first loved us. Would John 14:21 refer to a greater revelation of God to His children by obedience, since He tells us that He will manifest Himself to those who keep His commandments and to those who are believers... but struggle with keeping His commandments?

John 14:21 to me seems to say that as believers if we keep His commandments there will be a greater manifestation in the believers life than those who are believers but are not completely loyal to His ordinances. Is this true? Thanks in advance!

Response #5: 

Yes I would essentially agree with you. Our relationship with Jesus not entirely unlike our relationships with other people. When two people fall in love, they begin a relationship and that relationship will never be precisely the same day by day. That is because people change, because people are imperfect on a whole host of levels, and because the more we get to know someone, the more we see their flaws, failures and inconsistencies (which, imperfect people that we are, we often tend to emphasize over their strengths and positive attributes). There are important differences when it comes to our relationship with Christ and they are all blessed differences. He is perfect, so that the better we get to know Him, the better we should motivated to love Him, follow Him, and serve Him. Of course we are still imperfect in our character, discipline and application, but blessedly here too we do have the Holy Spirit who aids our every positive thought and step, and who helps us fight against everything that is unhelpful.

(16) But I tell you, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out what the flesh lusts for. (17) For what the flesh lusts for is contrary to the Spirit's will, and the Spirit is opposed to what the flesh lusts for. Since these are diametrically opposed to each other in this way, what you are doing is not what you yourself choose. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; (21) drunkenness, orgies and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, uprightness, faith, (23) humility, self-control. Against such things, there is no Law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its weaknesses and its lusts. (25) If we live because of the Spirit, let us also walk by means of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:15-25

As these verses affirm, we still have a sin nature after salvation, so that this contest of the will called life is never going to be an easy stroll in the park (more like climbing a rock wall in a blizzard). Every good step we take will be challenged by the evil one, who has our sinful inner person as an effective ally. But if we really are consistent in putting Jesus and His Word first, then we will make progress in the Christian life and in our relationship with Jesus. There really is no difference between the two, as both the context you give in the gospel of John and also in 1st John make clear (along with the rest of the Bible). For what are Jesus' commands except to love Him and each other? And how do we do that except by growing closer to Him through the Word of God and helping others to do the same? If we do pursue spiritual growth aggressively, walk with Him faithfully, and prosecute the ministries we have been given diligently, then not only will we be following this command, but we will also be delighting more day by day in the fulfillment of this promise in our lives as our Lord becomes more and more real to us, and as we experience His love more and more dramatically in all we think and do and say. That is the blessing to which we have been called. May we all embrace it and Him with all our hearts and souls and minds and might!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

I was wondering when did Adam and Eve receive their conscience's? Romans 2:14-46 says that all people are born with a conscience knowing right from wrong so those who are without the law perish with the law because it is written in their hearts. Does this mean that Adam was born with a conscience since he was born in God's image? (God knowing good from evil). Or did Adam receive his conscience after eating from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil?

Also, would Jesus have lived forever if he had not been crucified? I know that all of mankind will experience physical death as the result of Adam's sin from the beginning of our race. Since Jesus never sinned, that would mean that He wouldn't have to suffer the punishment of physical death which is one of the result of sin. So would Jesus have lived forever if he had not been crucified? I know that this question is a bit odd, but I can't seem to find the answer anywhere.

Response #6: 

On the first question, this is written up in detail in Bible Basics 3A, Anthropology under "The Conscience" (see the link). In a nutshell, Adam and Eve did have consciences that is a part of the essential makeup of human nature as designed by God but they did not have a knowledge of good and evil or even a frame of reference for what these things would be since everything was "good" in the garden. There was therefore no "guilt" or worry or self-conviction or inner wrestling about anything. They had the ability to appreciate all the good things God had done for them, and the only thing they knew (in their mind and consciences) that they should not do was to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of life, apparently essential for the continuation of human life even in the perfect environment of Eden for people with no sin nature, was not present in our Lord's day any more than it is today. Also, the earth has changed radically since the time of the flood. Before the flood, even in bodies of corruption, people regularly lived about a millennium. To what degree Jesus' perfect human body would have held up and how long absent His departure from life would have been without the tree of life and in the hostile conditions of present day earth is a moot question in any case. That is because Jesus only came to earth to die on the cross spiritually for our sins. After He had gone into the darkness and been punished for all we had done, that is, after His spiritual death, when the darkness cleared He proclaimed, "It has [now] been accomplished!" (Jn.19:30). That is to say, He accomplished salvation by dying spiritually for our sins while yet physically alive. And as soon as He had completed His mission, He of His own free will (cf. Jn.10:18) "gave up His spirit". This shows us that He was always meant to leave this temporary world and temporary body as soon as what He had been sent to do was done.

The same thing, by the way, goes for us. We are saved now (it "has been accomplished" for us as soon as we believe). But why are we still here? We remain to fulfill the mission that Jesus has for us, the plan He has for our lives, of spiritual growth, spiritual progress, and helping others do the same through the ministries with which we have been entrusted by Him. As soon as that is done, He will bring us home to be with Himself. For this world is to us nothing but dust, lust, and rust. It is what is coming that is all glorious.

In the Lord Jesus who died for us,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

 I have been having trouble with finding the literal translation of the word iesous from greek to English. I have been able to find it for the name YAHshua which means YAH is salvation but nothing for the greek iesous. I have learned that the greek word for god is theos and the creek word for salvation is soter or soteria or somewhere to that. I was wondering if you could show me how YAHshua translates to iesous it would help me a lot in understanding where we get the name Jesus.

Response #7: 

Essentially, "Iesous" (Ἰησοῦς: pronounced "ee-ay-SUS") is the Greek transliteration (i.e., the manner of spelling out a foreign name or word in another language rather than translating it) of the Hebrew name Joshua (Yashua). How and why the Greeks made such a mess of the transliteration is a long and complicated story (see the links) but it is a commonplace that Greek versions of Hebrew names always seem to be somewhat garbled, and that has hurt our English versions as a result. John, for example, is the Greek "Ioannos", but the Hebrew is "Yohannan". Anyway, what you have found about Joshua is correct for the name Jesus the rest is a matter of spelling and how we got from there to here. Please feel free to write me back if there is anything here or in the links that you'd like explained further.

The name "Jesus".

The names of Jesus Christ.

Changing the Name of God?

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:   

Do you interpret Romans 7:4 with respect to the Church?

Romans 7:4: Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (KJV)

Response #8: 

Indeed, the Church is the "Bride of Christ", and we have been espoused to our Lord in anticipation of the wedding which is the resurrection. As this is a very important topic and has been written up in very great detail, I will given you the links here and ask you to write me back about anything concerning which you would like further clarification. We belong to Jesus "body and soul", and that is both blessed and extremely important to understanding what we are doing here on earth after salvation.

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

The Bride: the Body of Christ (in SR 5)

The Wedding Supper of the Lamb

Christ the Bridegroom (in BB 4A)

Christians are part of Christ's Bride, the Church (in BB 3B)

Yours in Jesus our Bridegroom,

Bob L.

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