Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Low understanding of prayer, the Bible, God

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Devon Dick, Contributor

Dr Ethon Lowe has a problem with my statement "prayer is to discern the will of God for the common good, others and ourselves". He asked, "What is the common good? Is it God granting a sunny wedding day for a prospective bride or rain for 100 local farmers on the same day?"


Apart from the fact that God can grant both on the same day, the point was that prayer is not about selfish interests. It is not my will but God's will. The common good is what is beneficial to all. There are many things that are good for all, such as rain, sunshine, shelter, food and drink. By the way, rain does not prevent a wedding and a sunny day is not bad for farmers.

Having missed the point about prayer, Lowe moved to a discussion about the Bible, claiming that it was written by "an invisible, unproven deity". However, the Bible was not written by God but by persons who were inspired by God - "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2 Timothy 3:16.

Perhaps Lowe believes that God wrote the Bible with literal fingers based on Exodus 31:18: " … He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God." However, the notion of "the finger of God" is figurative language since God, being utterly Spirit, does not literally have fingers. This is an anthropomorphism - that is, speaking about God as if He had human attributes so that humans might better understand what is being said. A finger of God is a figure of speech to denote the ultimate divine source. Therefore, the finger of God is meant to highlight the divine inspiration of the 10 commandments written by Moses.

DIFFERENCE IN COMMANDMENTS

God could not have written the Ten Commandments because there is a significant difference between the first list in Exodus 20 and the second list in Deuteronomy 5. The Commandment about the Sabbath has a variation between the two accounts. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 does not mention anything about creation but locates the observance of the Sabbath in the children of Israel's emancipation from Egyptian bondage: "Keep the Sabbath day … . And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore, the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." While Exodus 20 argues for remembering the Sabbath day because in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth. There is no way to reconcile both passages and since God could not forget what He had written the first time, and since God does not make mistakes, then not even the Ten Commandments were written by the literal finger of God.

Lowe proclaimed boldly, "With prayers emanating throughout the land, the nation is STILL limping, let alone healed. Clearly, prayers are not working."

Assuming Lowe is assessing the nation correctly about chik-V it could also be argued that clearly medicines are not working. Nevertheless, Dr Lowe has a job and persons still flock to doctors' offices seeking healing from chik-V. It is standard feature of TV ads about a medication to 'heal' one malady but having 10 side effects!

There is a low understanding of prayer, the Bible and God, and hopefully, during this Advent season, when we remember God coming into the world in a decisive form as Jesus, the Christ, we will have a better appreciation of prayer, the Bible and God.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.