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Justin Welby takes to Twitter to teach us how to pray

 

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as Justin also taught his disciples.
And he said unto them, Just get yourself on Twitter, and follow the stream…

The Archbishop of Canterbury has 95,000 Twitter followers. That’s about 90,000 more followers than Jesus had when he fed them bread and fish and then climbed a mountain to get away from them all and pray. When Jesus was asked how we should pray, he gave us ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth..‘ etc. When Justin was asked how we should pray, he gave us:

More HERE, and journalistic summary HERE.

Some will find in this nothing but spiritual shallowness and theological frippery. It’s easier to carp and criticise than to pray and love. This is the Archbishop of Canterbury – the ‘Vicar of England’, as some vaguely know him – answering the people’s questions about prayer. It isn’t a grandiose biblical exposition; it isn’t a systematic theology: it isn’t theology at all. It is ministry, service, mission, charism. It is about community, accessibility, intimacy and enlightenment. Justin Welby gives guidance from experience, bringing to bear the problems of the world and a myriad of individual needs, wants and puzzlements. It’s raw and rough at the edges, and all the better for it. Some might call it ‘authentic’.

The questions were multidimensional: he could have spent an hour on each, but he had only 30 seconds to clarify a thought and inject some truth or insight. We are left with an impression that, for Justin Welby, prayer is the life of faith: he is committed to it. When we express ourselves verbally to God, something changes – more often, us. Yes, there is silent prayer, but silence is sometimes the loudest discourse of all.

There is nothing which cannot and does not fall within and beneath the domain of prayer, but it is more than wanting, yearning, beseeching. It is communion between God and man: openness, nakedness, vulnerability, revelation. We might do the speaking, but God moves us to pray in the depths of our being. We can always find an excuse to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but such evasion brings nothing but drought. We can persuade ourselves that it’s all a waste of time – the sick aren’t healed; the starving die; wars still rage – but prayer isn’t magic; intercession and petition aren’t spells.

Prayer doesn’t manipulate God: it moves us to a place where our egos whither away in the perfect judgment of His holiness. Listen, and hear very carefully. You might even learn that your motives are mixed, and all that you write and speak about truth and justice and rights and freedom is nothing but your personal interest and selfish desire. Prayers for peace are worthless when the craving is just to mitigate personal inconvenience. Prayers for justice are meaningless when the objective is psychological affirmation or career progression.

You can’t bend God’s will to your own, so let Him nudge you a little more toward loving human society with the mind of Christ. You can’t easily do that alone: it’s a community pursuit, and being in submission to others’ wisdom is the best guard against egocentric aberrations and infallible insights. And if that dynamic community now gathers on Twitter, perched tentatively between liturgy and spontaneity, then that’s where the Archbishop of Canterbury must be. It is ‘applied theology’ – diverse, flexible and messy, but authentic, in spirit and in truth.

  • Martin

    Since Justin Welby seems more interested keeping the CoE together than in actually preaching what God requires of us, more interested in getting people to sit down together and talk than reading what the Bible says, more interested in keeping everyone happy than in protecting the sheep, why should I care what he thinks of prayer?

    • Pubcrawler

      “”Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

      • Martin

        PC

        Are you suggesting that Welby is from Nazareth?

        • Hmmm … perhaps you should spend less time reading the bible and live in the real world amongst everyday people.

          • Martin

            HJ

            You think Christians aren’t ordinary people?

          • Depends. Some are and some are not. How about those not (yet) “saved” Martin?

          • Martin

            HJ

            As the Countess of Huntingdon was wont to say quoting 1 Cor 1.26, “I’m glad it says not many, rather than not any”. The elect we may safely leave in God’s hand and preach the gospel.

          • Of course you’re confident you are one of the elect too. And how do you think the Holy Spirit actually influences people? How do you think repentance and conversion will take place in 21st century Britain? God will certainly save all those who He foreknows will respond to His call, but there are barriers too.

          • Martin

            HJ

            None respond unless the Father first draw them. As Albert quoted to me:

            No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 [ESV])

          • Yes, that’s Catholic doctrine. Did Albert also add that we can resist this?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Note the second sentence, He will raise them, no talk of them resisting.

          • Drawing a person to oneself is not the same as compelling a person. And of course we can’t move towards Gods unless we act on actual grace. However, this is not so strong as to leave no room for a response from us.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Had you not noticed that He will raise them? God’s grace is irresistible and it will result in their salvation.

          • Yet people do resist it ….. before and after they are justified.

          • Martin

            HJ

            No one resists.

          • So why not save everyone?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Because God chose not to. It is, after all, His Creation, to do with as He pleases.

          • …. so, he need not have sent His Son to die ….

          • Martin

            HJ

            God chose to take upon Himself the nature of His Creation in order to save those He chose before the Creation of the World.

          • Why go to all that trouble?

          • Martin

            HJ

            For His glory.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Spending less time reading the Bible will cause you to be less in the real world.

        • Pubcrawler

          Of course not. That would be silly.

          • chefofsinners

            This is my territory.
            Hey, Martin, I think Welby might be from Nazareth.
            Hey, Martin, sometimes good things come from bad or unexpected places. God might have done it once, if I could only think of an example.

          • Martin

            CoS

            So you’re suggesting that we choose people who are pretty awful at being ministers of the gospel just in case they produce something good?

          • chefofsinners

            No, suggesting that Welby might be worth listening to despite his failings. Same reason I read your comments and you read mine.

          • Martin

            CoS

            I’m afraid Welby has consistently failed to surprise.

          • Martin

            PC

            Then what are you suggesting?

      • sarky

        They haven’t released anything in a couple of years, but had a few good tunes in the 70’s/80’s.

        • Anton

          Their electric version of “This flight tonight” was one of the great transformations of a song made by a different artist from its composer.

      • IrishNeanderthal
    • David

      Quite ! My point exactly.

    • Because others who you are ready to damn may respond positively to a message based on compassion rather than judgement and condemnation? When Jesus preached His sermons, He sat people down, fed them and told them about His Father and His love.

      The real irony is that you believe people are dead in their sin and can behave no differently unless or until God has chosen them as one of His elect.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Unless you know of the judgement what need have you of a Saviour?

        • It’s all about how you describe God – His Justice, His Love and His Mercy, and where you start.
          According to your theology, God decrees who’s saved and damned. Entirely independent of any free will. This makes your approach rather easy. Preach hell fire and damnation and judge the world. If God is to save them, then He will, regardless.
          Jack hopes his granddaughter never encounters such as you as she learns about God.

          • Martin

            HJ

            All have chosen rebellion of their own free will. All thus deserve destruction. God in His mercy saves some. The condemnation is declared and so is the mercy, but condemnation must be declared else there can be no mercy.

            If your granddaughter never discovers she is a sinner needing salvation she will never seek mercy.

          • CliveM

            How can the dead in sin have free will? If we are all dead in sin, how can we freely rebel?

          • Martin

            Clive

            We have sinned and become the slaves of sin.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            are we not born with sin? You yourself on this blog have said “how can the dead have free will”, later clarifying this comment by saying you meant “the dead in sin”. But later you also make the statement “all have chosen rebellion of their own free will”.

            Now I ask myself, if the dead in sin can’t employ free will and that we are all born sinful (and presumably dead), where does this.freely chosen free will to rebel come in?

            We didn’t simply sin, we were born that way, so therefore born sinful? Born slaves.

          • Martin

            Clive

            We are born with the tendency to sin and eagerly grasp that tendency. That is our rebellion. But our free will we give away to our sin, again in rebellion. And we are enslaved.

            But Christ changes our will, causes us to desire the things of God. Our will is once more free to serve God as willing slaves.

          • How is being dead in one’s sins – with no ability to behave any differently – an act of a free will?
            Hopefully, my granddaughter will grow up knowing God loves her so much He sent His Son to teach her the way to heaven.

          • Martin

            HJ

            We all choose to sin and thus become the slave of sin, even your granddaughter. The way to Heaven is by God’s mercy.

    • IamGrimalkin

      Because a good amount of his social media projects so far (not this, but others) involve bible studies, so are quite literally reading what the bible says?

      • Martin

        Trouble is, Welby ignores what the Bible says about separating from unbelievers.

  • David

    What he says is, on the face of it, sound general advice regarding Christian prayer.
    However for me, as a conservative Anglican Christian, I find that his trajectory, involving the appeasement of the prevailing culture, most disappointing and distracting from whatever else he says.

    • scottspeig

      Indeed, and we are to discern from actions, not words, and to test all things by scripture…

    • Can you enlighten Jack about where his advice on prayer entails the “appeasement of the prevailing culture”?

      • Martin

        HJ

        Perhaps you should learn to read.

        • Now, now. That’s hardly an answer. What’s the “problem” with his advice?

          • Martin

            HJ

            David said “I find that his trajectory, involving the appeasement of the prevailing culture, most disappointing and distracting from whatever else he says”. He didn’t criticise his advice.

          • Fair enough, and he’s already clarified it. But why have a swipe at him?

          • Martin

            HJ

            The swipe was entirely at you.

          • Very Christian. Just where is that written in scripture?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Answer not a fool according to his folly,
            lest you be like him yourself.
            Answer a fool according to his folly,
            lest he be wise in his own eyes.

            (Proverbs 26:4-5 [ESV])

          • Yes, I shall remember that in future when addressing you.

          • Martin

            😉

      • David

        It doesn’t Jack, nor have I said that it does. I am speaking of other recently discussed issues.

  • CliveM

    Considering the questions asked, his responses seemed appropriately pitched. Welby may not be the most profound theologian, but that’s not what the CofE needs. He speaks with a sincere voice.

    • Don’t confuse simplicity with a lack of profundity.

      • CliveM

        I’m not. Nor profundity with theological complexity.

        • It’s always a good sign when a pastor can make theological truths understandable to the audience being addressed.

          • CliveM

            Yes agreed.

      • CliveM

        But you make a good point about my post. Changed to better reflect what I meant.

    • Martin

      Clive

      What the CoE needs is a leader who will say that those who aren’t Christians should leave.

      • CliveM

        Should we only let Christians through the door of the Church?

        • Martin

          Clive

          Only Christians should be deacons or elders and only they are permitted the Lord’s supper. Unbelievers may come and hear the gospel but they cannot be part of a church.

      • dannybhoy

        Acts 4>
        “19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.”

        “While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight-I’ll fight to the very end!”
        – William Booth

        “Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties? ”
        ― William Wilberforce

        “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
        ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

        They didn’t tweet, but they did inspire….

  • preacher

    Good post Dr Cranmer. All religious people pray, & some would say they receive answers, ( or manifestations ). The difference is that the Holy Spirit will often answer by sending you off on a different course, one you didn’t ask for or want, but one that you need to enable spiritual growth. The true disciple will do as the Lord directs & grow in knowledge & wisdom from the experience.

  • Jack cannot understand what people see as the problem with this advice given by Justin Welby. It seems sound to Jack.

    • CliveM

      Some people just don’t like positivity.

      • Where have you been hiding?

        • CliveM

          On holiday. The wife had hidden my phone charger!!

          Still she has two weeks of washing to help her to repent!

  • Inspector General

    Never been sure where prayer fits into it all. Was Jesus giving those who need it a form of self-delusion. That if they prostrate themselves with hands clasped, their will be done? That they be assured they have some influence in matters, no matter how slight that influence be, when of course, they have nothing of the sort.

    You see, if you possess a higher understanding of it all, what use is prayer? It’s all unfurling before us, and all we can do is to appreciate the plan in action. In fact, those of us with said understanding take comfort and security from knowing this plan is in place. We don’t need to pray. But what if you don’t have the understanding…how do you cope with it all then.

    Ah, yes. That’s it, isn’t it. You have prayer…

    • ” …. if you possess a higher understanding of it all … “

      ROFLOL

      God, being eternal, doesn’t exist in time. Nevertheless, in His actions towards us He acts sequentially and contingently through other people and responds to our prayers. He already knows our needs and He knows every prayer we’ve ever made and will ever make in the future. Yes, there is a plan unfolding – to God its complete – but we, being in time, are an active part of God’s plan and our prayers, already known to Him, and prompted by Him, do make a difference.

      • Inspector General

        The only thing missing in that lot (!) is at the very end. “And don’t forget boys and girls, you’ll all go to heaven if you’re nice to your uncle Jack, and appreciate his heavenly Department of Social Security view of this world.”

        • Department of Social Security?

          • Inspector General

            Yes. Just roll over and God will provide…saves you improving your earthly situation yourself…

          • chefofsinners

            Well, stone the prophets if it aint the Inspector mangling doctrine again.

            You are back to the most geriatric of gnarled chestnuts, trying to reconcile God’s omnipotence with mankind’s freewill, and time with eternity. There are some things that even your mighty intellect is incapable of comprehending. God is one of them.

            God tells us both are true, so they are. Can we comprehend it with the system of logic that the Greeks invented? Or do we want miraculous proof in the Jewish manner? Christ is the wisdom and the power of God, making foolish the wisdom of this world.

          • Martin

            CoS

            How can the dead have free will?

          • chefofsinners

            Eh? The dead in sins or the dead physically dead?

          • Martin

            CoS

            The dead in sin.

          • chefofsinners

            Why would they not have free will? Have they not chosen to sin?

          • dannybhoy

            You’re asking for trouble there guv..
            Martin believes that we are born sinful and can’t help but sin.
            Further, he believes that we are incapable of responding to grace. The work is all God’s and he chooses who He will to save.
            But you’ll find this all out if you journey down that road with him.
            He argues it well.

          • chefofsinners

            He is wrong.
            Jesus cried over Jerusalem and said “How often would I have gathered you… but you would not. ”
            That’s free will for you.

          • Martin

            CoS

            They would not because they were enslaved.

          • chefofsinners

            It says ‘would’, not ‘could’.

          • dannybhoy

            You are being Inexorably drawn into the quicksands of predestination….
            Danny will fetch a rope.

          • Martin

            CoS

            They make the choice for sin.

          • But the ‘would not’ creates the ‘could not’. The human heart never wills in its natural condition to follow Christ. It is inveterately opposed to God. Israel in the OT is The great object lesson here. Spiritually God gave Israel every advantage and privilege yet her story is one of disobedience and unbelief. The problem lay in her heart. It didn’t matter what God did as long as the heart was rotten (uncircumcised) there was no hope. The only hope lay in God’s promise of a new covenant, one where God would take away the old heart and give a new heart. This is what he accomplishes in the gospel. It is God’s means of spiritual heart surgery. Israel is of course Everyman.

          • chefofsinners

            The ‘would not’ are the words of Christ. The ‘could not’ are your words (or Martin’s) as you attempt to fit an inconvenient passage around your theology.
            The history of Israel includes a king who was ‘a man after the heart of God’, who prayed ‘create in me a clean heart’. The nation was invited to ‘choose this day whom you will serve’. Blessings and curses were read from mounts Gerizim and Ebal.
            The human heart is entirely capable of choosing good or evil, which is why we are held responsible for our choices. Examples of a heart being hardened, such as Pharaoh’s, are noted because they are very rare.

          • We are held responsible for our choices because they are our choices. If my heart ‘MY heart’ always chooses to turn away from God and good then this is my choice and I am accountable for it.

            A main reason for God giving the law to Israel was to help them (and us) see the utter inability of the human heart to keep it. Roms 3:20,21. The law was given to prove to us the sinfulness of the human heart.

            He who sins is a slave of sin. Our ears like those of Israel are deaf and our eyes are wilfully blind. We have uncircumcised hearts and will always have them unless God gives us a new heart. The flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit, and indeed cannot (Roms 8). There is none who does good. None who seek after God. The human condition is slavery to our own lusts readily following the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air.

            David was a man after God’s own heart because he was chosen by God and given a new heart.

            God gives free choice but that is not the same as free will. God lays out in our Word what is our responsibility but responsibility does not imply ability. We have a responsibility to love God and serve him because he is God but so corrupt is our nature that we will never naturally do so. The human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are morally deformed. Addicts to sin. Left to ourselves we will never will submission to God. We are haters of God. That is the human condition. We will not come because our hearts are too corrupt, too opposed.

            Pharoah is not rare. Paul has expressed God’s freedom as God to show mercy to one (sinner) and to harden another (sinner). All of humanity fits into one or other category; all are either a vessel of mercy or a vessel of wrath. God either in grace softens our hearts of stone and gives us a heart of flesh or he takes hearts already opposed and resistant and further hardens them in their opposition to him. He does this, it would seem, by removing his restraints from them and allowing the evil potential of the human heart to flourish (cf Romans 1). Whom he wills he treats mercifully and whom he wills he hardens.

            God holds out the gospel to all. It is proclaimed throughout the world. He commands all men everywhere to believe. None of this implies that men will naturally come. Only those whose eyes he opens will come. Only those whose deafness he heals and whose hearts he renews will believe. Only the dead to whom he gives life will live.

          • chefofsinners

            Much of what you say is true, because it is scripture. But this is a nonsense: “God gives free choice but that is not the same as free will. God lays out in our Word what is our responsibility but responsibility does not imply ability.”

            You are attempting to apply binary thinking, Aristotlean logic, to God. As Paul observed, after spending three chapters explaining election: “O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?”

          • Paul’s burst of praise comes AFTER he has explained some of the issues we are grappling with here. I am personally uninterested in going further than Scripture. I do not feel the need to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility. I can and do live with mystery, even apparent contradiction. However, in pursuing understanding, I am prepared to go as far as Scripture does in grappling with issues.

            ‘God gives free choice but this is not the same as free will’.

            This is simply an attempt to clarify terms. When I say God gives free choice I mean simply that he sets before us genuine options. He holds out the way of life and the way of death and he invites us to choose. This is a bona fide offer. We may freely choose. What this invitation to choose does not assume, but we often do, is that the genuine offer to choose on God’s part assumes in us the the corresponding ability to freely choose.

            In one sense, of course we do have the ability. There is nothing stopping us bar our own heart which is so corrupt that it is implacably and resolutely determined to choose evil.

            In saying this I am going no further than Scripture reveals.

          • chefofsinners

            And yet the scriptures do not say that the heart of man is implacably and resolutely determined to choose evil. It says “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, but that does not preclude making some good and right decisions. As the rich young man said to Jesus “All these things have I kept from my youth” – and the Lord did not argue with him, but it was the one thing he lacked which condemned him.

          • For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Roms 8:7,8

            For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. Roms 7:18

            The ‘one thing he lacked’ revealed his covetous heart that kept him from following Christ. I take it the rich young ruler had been morally upright. But how far that falls short of loving God with heart and soul and strength. The ruler loved things more than God and so reveals a wicked heart.

            Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Eccl 8:11

          • chefofsinners

            I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. Except perhaps building doctrine on Ecclesiastes; The whole book is set forth as the best of human wisdom but not necessarily as divine wisdom.
            My point is that the scriptures also teach truths which appear to the human mind to be opposite to these verses.

          • Martin

            CoS

            Their sin now owns their will, they are the slaves of sin and must obey.

          • Then where’s the subjective culpability.

          • Martin

            HJ

            We are born with a sinful nature but the choice to sin is ours.

          • Or not …..

          • Martin

            HJ

            None of us ever does not sin.

          • Is that a double negative?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Looks like it, is the meaning not plain?

          • We are culpable simply by belonging to a corrupt humanity. A cancer is intrinsically culpable. So too, is a virus. Humanity is a stain on creation. It is a corruption. Our evil behaviour is simply an expression of who we are/what we are. It demonstrates and proves our culpability. In us, in our flesh dwells no good thing.

          • What a bright and positive outlook on mankind. Are you an undertaker?

          • chefofsinners

            It says ‘would not’, not ‘could not’.

          • All men are free to follow their inclinations. In this sense their will is free. But the will is a function of the heart and the human heart is hostile to God. We are slaves to our natures and our natures are sinful. In this sense we are slaves of sin. To be ‘dead in sin’ is simply to be under the power and authority of sin. A bad tree can only bear bad fruit. We are born in sin and sharpen in iniquity.

          • Inspector General

            Think of it this way Chief. God has been so impressed by his free willed creation that a couple of thousand years ago he decided that the best of us be salvaged while our rotting vehicles are disposed of. Now, that is truly wondrous! Prior to that, we were mere disposable objects of entertainment of no consequence.

            Do you know, sometimes the Inspector thinks God truly loves us. Some of us, that is.

          • chefofsinners

            You use the word ‘Think’ in the loosest of senses.

          • Inspector General

            Best run away and hide then…

          • dannybhoy

            Oo-oo!

          • He’s got the spirit in him …. whiskey.

          • “Well, stone the prophets … “
            One of your best lines ….

          • chefofsinners

            I thank you.

    • dannybhoy

      You have mentioned before your unorthodox views on the Christian devotional life. You are an interesting fellow, Inspector.

      • Inspector General

        This is how it is Danny. It’s all been decided for us in the past, by dead people. No room for manoeuvre today. Yet one believes you can further greater understanding of what is…

        • dannybhoy

          Oh I don’t believe it’s all preordained, or that God necessarily has a plan for your life. I don’t believe that. I think salvation includes surrendering our lives to God and that for most of us God will walk with us through all the ups and downs of life if we invite Him to. I think if God calls you to a particular task or ministry he will specifically guide you, sometimes in miraculous ways.
          But other times you just get on with your life, you spend time in prayer (quiet time) where you worship Him and pray, and read His word.

          • Inspector General

            Pray away, Danny. If you have the time. And if Welby is reading this, he might instead devote his private time to getting revenge on those 14 priests. Of course, the Inspector recommends dismissal on the same day, to show the church that he is their leader, with no time for renegades, but that’s the Inspector for you…

          • How can you have a living relationship with someone you don’t talk to?

          • Inspector General

            You can’t have a dialogue with God.

          • Anton

            Really? Plenty of people had a dialogue with Jesus, who is divine. And look at Genesis 18 where Abraham haggled with God over the destruction of Sodom.

          • Of course God has a plan for your life!
            What do you mean by “preordained”?

          • dannybhoy

            I think the Bible teaches that God has a plan for your life, and that plan is salvation through Jesus Christ.
            God preordained (or foreordained) how He would rescue man from his sin.
            I don’t believe that for example, God preordained that Lucifer should fall from grace or that man would.
            Whether God in His omniscience knew all these things would happen, raises other issues.
            I personally believe the Bible teaches freewill, that man can continue to ignore or rebel against God’s salvation.
            I don’t believe the Bible teaches that God has our life mapped out for us, or that He has preordained who we should be, what we should look like, what allergies we should have, etc. etc.
            I think God interacts with us. When He needs a person for a particular role, He raises them up. Moses, David the prophets spring to mind.

          • Dannyb

            In one sense that is correct. Looking at life from the perspective of human experience it can be described that way. But the bible invites us to go behind the scenes and see God controlling history, not parts of history but the whole of it. We are told he works all things according to the counsel of his own will. The Kings heart is like watercourse in the hands of the Lord, says Proverbs, he turns it however he chooses. Text after text can be advanced that insists on God’s absolute sovereignty over every detail of history.

          • dannybhoy

            I think we have to be true to what we see and experience in life. and I hold in balance what I see with what these texts say.
            I am confident that one day when God wraps it all up, everyone who has ever lived will come before God to give an account of what they did in this life.
            But in the meantime God’s gift of freewill mans that men will continue to do evil, kill and enslave millions, and deliberately allow the hungry to starve to death, Children will be abused, tortured, raped and see their parents slain before their eyes at the hands of evil men.
            This is what we know.
            God’s sovereignty means that He allows man his freedom, but man will answer one day for what he did with it.
            There is no evidence that the leaders of the world are put there by God, else God would be responsible for their actions. He allows man to make choices and will intervene when He deems necessary.
            The Bible outlines how God uses willing men to accomplish His will; through the Patriarchs, the Prophets and individual leaders.
            Then Jesus came, and the Church was born and we stand to proclaim the Gospel, to live the faith and be salt and light in our world.
            It seems to me that is how it works

            1st John 5> “19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
            Proverbs 28> “Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.”
            Psalm 2> “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
            and cast away their cords from us…”

            I would recommend two books by Roger Forster and Paul Marston; “God’s Strategy in Human History” volumes 1 and 2.

          • ‘There is no evidence that the leaders of the world are put there by God, e lse God would be responsible for their actions. He allows man to make choices and will intervene when He deems necessary.’

            But Danny there is. Overwhelming and abundant evidence. Even a cursory reading of Scripture establishes this.

            ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Daniel 4:31-33

            Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:

            “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
            wisdom and power are his.
            21He changes times and seasons;
            he deposes kings and raises up others. Dan 2:19-21

            Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God. Roms 13:1

            I will raise up Cyrus in righteousness,
            and I will make all his ways level;
            he shall build my city
            and set my exiles free,
            not for price or reward,”
            says the Lord of hosts. Isa 45:13

            Again and again in the OT we read of God raising up kings and disposing kings. As far as the bible is concerned not only the really big things of life, like which kings rule, are in the hands of God, but the small and apparently random things too.

            33The lot is cast into the lap,
            but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33

          • dannybhoy

            “As far as the bible is concerned not only the really big things of life, like which kings rule, are in the hands of God, but the small and apparently random things too.”

            Sorry my friend.
            Sounds too much like “The Matrix.”

            Did you read Psalm 2?
            You realise that a case can be made for practically every doctrine if you choose the right verses?
            It’s all about the nature of God, and I don’t believe in a God who does bad things so that His glory might be shown to some obscure purpose.
            I believe in a God who is the Creator, who is way above our understanding and way more powerful and intelligent than we will ever comprehend.
            He is holy
            He is just
            He can be trusted
            He is compassionate
            and He is love.
            God does not raise up Pol Pots. or Hitlers, or Stalins, or Maos or Genghis Khans to prove that He is in charge of earth’s affairs.
            He does not cause little babies to be born deformed, or conjoined, or with bits missing so that they live a short life in pain and discomfort.
            To what end?
            He does not raise up rulers so that millions upon millions can die and women weep, and children be left parentless.
            It is fallen man under the power or influence of Satan, that does these things.
            Why do you think Jesus healed people physically and emotionally? Why do you think He turned water into wine, or spent time with children and those regarded as outside polite society?
            Because God loves us. Jesus came not only to die for our sins, but to show us what God is like.
            For me the Scriptures are full of the loving compassionate nature of God.
            He wants to be involved with us, He wants us to come back to Him so that we might know His support and guidance and grace, as we walk through this broken world, and at the last to enjoy His presence forever.

          • CliveM

            Well said.

          • dannybhoy

            Thanks Clive.

          • Danny

            You are making God to be what you want him to be, not what he says he is. You need to adjust your thinking to what is revealed that is what faith does. We all need to do this.

            ‘You do realise that a case can be made for practically every doctrine if you choose the right verses’

            Only to those who do not know the bible. This seems from you like an excuse for shutting down the bits of the bible you don’t like. In any case, the number of verses to support my contention are overwhelming.

            Nebuchadnezzar, the Pharoah of the Exodus, Artaxerxes the Assyrian were not nice people. They were cruel despots but in each case we are told God raised them up and in three cases, he did so to use them in judging other nations. Israel herself is told to wipeout the nations of Canaan.

            Pilate, who crucified Jesus, received his authority from God.

            ‘Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. ‘. Jn 18

            ‘Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.’ Acts 4

            It is true, absolutely and gloriously true that God loves us. But it is not the only truth about God.

            Jesus’ miracles were not all about healing. What about the cursing of the fig tree in Mark 11. What is that about?

            I do not disagree that fallen man under the power of Satan is responsible for much evil. Satan is destructive for being destructive’s sake. Yet Satan never acts without God’s permission. He only does that which God allows, that which fits in with God’s design. God is never destructive for being destructive’s sake but he is holy and acts in judgement.

            God acts in history to bring his judgements on nations. For example he raised up Nebuchadnezzar and Artaxerxes the Assyrian to punish Israel. He warned them that unless they repented he would send awful judgements on them through these kings, which he did.

            And what of hell, that Jesus spoke of. If God can punish people in hell then why is it so unthinkable that he judges people in history.

            Who sent the flood in Gen 6? Who sent the plagues on Egypt? Who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Who sent Israel into exile? Who sends earthquakes, famines etc… the horsemen of the Apocalypse?

            Think of texts like Psalm 110

            ‘The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” 5The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. 6He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men’

            Or

            At one moment I might speak concerning a nation … to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation … to build up or plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice (God’s word), then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it” (Jer 18:4-10)

            Or

            God’s instruction to Israel: do not leave alive anything that breathes’ in the cities given to them for an inheritance (Deut 20.1)

            Or

            ‘ With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgement with him … I will magnify Myself … and make Myself known in the sight of many nations …’ (Ezek 38.22,23)

            I could go on and on

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Artaxerxes the Assyrian ??

            Artaxerxes I of Persia, mentioned in the book of Nehemiah, is held to be the “good guy” among the Persian kings.

            The Assyrian kings seem to have been uniformly awful, though.

          • You’re right. I shouldn’t rely on my memory. Sennacherib, I should have said.

          • dannybhoy

            “I could go on and on”
            Please don’t! :0)
            I think those people you quote are leaders of nations directly or indirectly interacting with God’s holy nation Israel.
            As Israel the nation is called to serve God, then obviously all the nations around will be included, and their kings used as you say.
            I accept that. I’m not ignoring what those scriptures say, but I do believe that Israel is very much at the hub of all these events, and God uses these men to punish or to bless Israel. You of course know that under the Old Covenant, Israel enjoyed blessings when (as a whole) they walked in God’s ways, and ‘cursings’ or punishments when they didn’t. The whole of the Old Testament is about God’s covenant with the Jews who were called to be ‘a light unto the nations.’

            But in the rest of the world evil rulers did evil things. I just think to say that all these kings and despots were placed in leadership by God is wrong. He allowed it yes, but He didn’t choose them.
            Can you imagine Stalin being confronted with the direct responsibility of the deaths of some 20 million people
            http://www.ibtimes.com/how-many-people-did-joseph-stalin-kill-1111789
            and God gives a little cough and says, “Well actually I’m indirectly responsible for that. as I appointed him….”

            I am not disputing that the earth is the Lord’s and all that is therein.” His purposes will be achieved, but does He do it by appointing all the rulers of the earth?
            I think not

            Interesting discussion here….
            https://500questions.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/38-does-god-appoint-evil-leaders/

          • CliveM

            I agree with you DB.

  • len

    Whatever we think prayer to be I think we should rely on the Word of God Jesus Christ Himself….The Lords Prayer…

    • David

      Amen to that.
      The Lords Prayer – pray it in sincerity – pray it often.

    • IanCad

      True Len. Even better, for me, is to hear it sung – less temptation to gallop through it.

      A wonderful start to the day:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj0hr8oqqx8

  • Will Jones

    ‘Instead of asking God to bless him or help her, should we just do it?’

    No Justin. We should never just act instead of prayer. We should always do both. Seriously, how can you get a basic point like that wrong? Makes it sound like Christians should stop all this God-bothering malarkey and just be nice. Not a sound theology. I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that. But then when one is the Archbishop of Canterbury one should always say what one means.

    • IamGrimalkin

      That was Cranmer’s question, not Welby’s answer. Play the video to get his answer (spoiler: it’s both, innit).

  • ‘Prayers for peace are worthless when the craving is just to mitigate personal inconvenience.’

    I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Tim 2

  • dannybhoy

    :0)

  • Martin

    Well lookee lookee – all the comments have disappeared. Has ‘His Grace’ really been having that bad a time of it?

    • We’re just waiting for Disqus to re-sync them with the new site.