Monday, 11 April 2016

Does Prayer Change Things? by RC Sproul

For worldly people, prayer is a completely futile and pointless activity, yet for the Christian it is the most vital and the most powerful thing we can ever do. Therefore any book that encourages us about the importance of prayer is worth reading.

Some people ask the question, if God has ordained all things, as Calvinists say (and historically most Catholic theologians), what is the purpose of prayer? RC Sproul answers firstly by pointing out that God commands us to pray and thus Christians must pray. God is glorified when we pray. Furthermore, prayer is the means by which God executes His will in the Earth. Prayer does not change God, but it does change things.

I liked Sproul's comments on 'Thy Kingdom Come' (much better than those of Aquinas) in the Our Father. He affirms that it is a prayer for the Kingdom of God to be made visible on Earth and for the world to be brought out of rebellion and into submission to God.

I was expecting RC Sproul to criticise Catholic prayer traditions such as the rosary and asking the intercession of saints, yet he mentioned none of these things (perhaps because the book is aimed at Evangelical readers). I was even more surprised to find that our author says some very positive things about the Catholic practice of going to confession. In particular, he praises the classic Act of Contrition that Catholics usually say in confession (I can never remember the words when I go to confession- I'm a newbie!). There is much that a Catholic would want to say about prayer that a Reformed theologian like Sproul will not say, but this is still an excellent little book on the power and value of prayer.

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