|Vol. 13 No. 3 March 2011||
Jeff A. Jenkins
Apparently Chick-Fil-A must be a good place to pray. I see it happen quite often. Before I tell you about my most recent citing of prayer at Chick-Fil-A, allow me to remind you again that it is one of my favorite places. The food is delicious. It is always fresh and reasonably priced compared to many places. The people who work at the Chick-Fil-A’s in the Metroplex are always friendly and cordial. I mean, where else do they serve you always with a smile and then say, “My pleasure!”
At most of the stores there is free Wi-Fi where I can get a lot of work done (like write a new post for the blog or catch up on answering email) while I sip on a large sweet tea (which by the way is consistently outstanding!). They are always closed on Sunday to allow their employees time to worship and spend time with their families (how can you not love that?). I know, I know, not everyone loves Chick-Fil-A as much as I do, but hey, I have to; I am a Chick-Fil-A Ambassador (see this post: https://jeffajenkins.com/2010/06/an-official-ambassador/).
The other day as I answered emails and wrote a couple of blog posts, I saw three different groups of people who prayed. The last people were a couple of young ladies who were seated across the lobby involved in what appeared to be a very intense conversation. It was obvious that one of the young ladies was hurting. Before they left, they held hands across the table and prayed. I don’t know the source of the pain or the content of the prayer, but I thought, How wonderful. I hope that more Christians will pray with and for one another. Prayer is our lifeline to God. The disciples of Jesus once requested of Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-2). Obviously during the time they had spent with Jesus they saw how important prayer was to Him. They wanted to know the secret to His prayer life.
In our Sunday school class last week we learned from Jesus (John 14-16) the following thoughts about prayer. PRAYER IS DEDICATION. Prayer is our opportunity to show our devotion to God and our dependence upon God (John 15:5-7). When we pray, we are making a declaration that we are devoted to our Father and that we cannot survive by ourselves.
PRAYER IS COMMUNICATION. We understand that the Bible is God’s way of communicating to us (John 17:17). Thankfully, our communication with God is not a one-way street. God allows us to communicate with Him through prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to God. Jesus tells us that we are God’s friends. If we are God’s children and His friends, He is interested in us. He is interested in our concerns our cares, our worries, our relationships and everything about us. It is not necessary for us to know any key men, because we know the one who holds the keys.
PRAYER IS SUPPLICATION. Paul reminds us that we should let our requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). The word “supplication” is just a big word for “request.” We do not make our requests to God to give Him knowledge of what we need. God is already quite aware of every need we have. In addition to the reason Paul gives here in this passage for letting our requests be made known to God (so that we can have peace, Philippians 4:7), another reason would be so that we can articulate in our own heart and mind what we feel we need most.
PRAYER IS COOPERATION. When we pray, we are partnering with God. We are asking God to help us in our work for Him, with our families, in our walk with Him. When we abide in Christ and ask for the needs of our heart, we are bringing glory to God (John 15:7-8).
So after seeing all of these people praying I did what every preacher would do. I prayed! My prayer on this day was focused on my two families. I prayed to the Lord about my concerns for my physical family and my spiritual family. As it turned out, it was a very intense prayer. As it turned out, Chick-Fil-A is in fact a pretty good place to pray.
We all may be guilty of it at times. What am I talking about? Assumptions. While we try to approach the Scriptures and let them speak to us and shape our beliefs, we may all, from time to time, unwittingly allow assumptions to shape our view of a text. Allow me to give you a few examples from the early chapters of Genesis.
1) Was there rain prior to the flood? Some would emphatically say, “No” based on Genesis 2:5-6. Yet, does this passage say it never rained prior to the flood? It says there was no rain prior to any plants and herbs, but the text stops there. How things were watered after plants and herbs had grown is not stated. That’s where some fill the gap by assumptions.
2) Cain took a wife from the Land of Nod. This is an assumption. The text doesn’t say this. The text says that Cain and his wife conceived a child there (Genesis 4:16). There is nothing in the text that says anything about Cain finding a wife in Nod, or for that matter any other people in this land from among whom he picked a wife. In Hebrew, “Nod” means, “wandering.” Cain may have taken a wife with him to “Nod,” this place of wandering, and conceived a son there and built a city.
3) Seth was the third child born to Adam and Eve. This too is an assumption, and an incorrect one at that. True, Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve mentioned in Scripture, but this does not imply there were not others before him. Genealogies are not always complete. Often they skip over those who weren’t “key players.” For example, Matthew 1:1says, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Surely none would argue that Abraham was Jesus’ grandfather. There were others in the lineage, but they just were not mentioned in that verse. It might also seem difficult to think that Adam and Eve would wait 130 years to have their third child (Genesis 5:3). The text states that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4), some of whom had to have been born before Seth in order for Cain to take a wife, and be concerned about other people who may slay him (Genesis 4:14).
4) Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable because it wasn’t a blood sacrifice. This is yet another assumption. While it is true that Cain’s sacrifice was from the fruit of the ground and Abel’s was an animal sacrifice, and while it is true that God took pleasure in Abel’s and not Cain’s, it does not follow that the reason was the “things offered” by Cain and Abel. According to Hebrews 11:4, Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s because it was offered “by faith.” That could mean that Abel’s offering consisted of the item that God commanded (about which there is no revelation), or it could mean that Abel built the altar to God’s specifications, or used a certain kind of wood to light the fire, or a hundred other things God may have commanded that are not recorded. Or it could refer to the attitude Abel possessed and Cain lacked. We just do not know beyond what the text says.
So here you have four quick illustrations from very familiar biblical material. However, may I ask, “Have you made some assumptions regarding these texts?” Have you drawn conclusions that the Bible does not draw? Now grant it, these matters are not salvation issues. Heaven and Hell don’t hang in the balance, but what these matters demonstrate is that we too must guard against holding to and teaching assumptions rather than accurately representing the Word of God. Let us be sure to give more than lip service to the idea of “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent.”