As fallen humans, we tend to live our lives at the extremes. We often have a hard time finding a balance in the middle of things, a place that may be healthy. In a recent article questioning whether or not we spend too much time in biblical analysis rather than in prayer, I felt this pull towards both sides of the article’s poles.
On one side of the balance, there is the pull to depend solely on revealed Scripture to diagnose our problems and find solutions to fix them. The article refers to this approach as seeking ‘principles.’
We look for that biblical principle to solve our problem and once we settle into a satisfying insight or self-assessment, we consider the job done. Prayer rarely has the last word…My own life can be guilty of this. It can look good on the surface: I really am trying to think biblically about the daily struggles of life. But, in fact, my system is less than biblical; I live as though God’s job is to give me a relevant principle and then off I go to figure things out. I need less analyzing and more praying!
I hear what this article is saying. As a Thinker on the Myers Briggs scale, I tend to see the logic in going to the rational, preset words of God and seeking help from these ancient words that have brought comfort and hope to so many who have gone before me. I tend to think of prayer, wrong as I am, as the Feelers’ realm. It is on the other side of the scale, the pull to depend solely on conversational interpretations of what we feel God saying to us, with little biblical input to guide as we pray. Not very logical, not very reproducible across groups of people.
But it seems that I am overly polarizing scripture and prayer, as I think the article comes close to doing itself.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to figure it all out using biblical principles about purity and temptation, and once we know what to do, there seems to be no reason to pray. After all, who prays, “Okay, Lord, I am going out on a date now. I know what I am supposed to do. Talk to you later.”
What we need to remember is that the very Scriptures in which we are to find these ‘principles’ gives us the principle to pray without ceasing and to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. Knowing this principle then turns the act of prayer from something that Feelers do into something that is completely logical and necessary for me to be doing, and doing as often as I seek biblical counsel. Using the principles that I find as I read the Word, I then incorporate them into my prayers so that they are the foundation and reason that I am able to pray the requests that I have.
Instead of the quote from above, I can instead pray, “Lord, I am going on a date now. I have read in your word what I am supposed to do with regards to purity, but I also know that I am unable in myself to be pure. But you, Jesus, were always pure, and I need your Spirit now to give me aid so that I may not fall and bring shame on your name. I have died to myself, and am alive in You, but I still struggle with my flesh. I have failed, and I may fail more, but Your nearness is my only good. I need you to be near me tonight. Keep me from unintentional sins, and block my way when I intentionally try to do what is wrong. If I fail, please be quick to forgive me and bring me back into fellowship with you. My only hope is You. Amen.”
Check out the rest of this short article and see if you are balanced principle pray-er.