Praying for Non-Reformed Churches and Believers

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by RBachman, Feb 3, 2018.

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  1. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    NB to the Moderator(s): I could not find an existing thread covering this topic (except the one about praying for the Pope).

    Question: What is the proper Reformed understanding on how we should pray for specific christian associates who are not reformed?

    Background: I run a small lawnmower shop with several wonderful christian customers that I see regularly, and occasionally pray with. None are reformed, most are some flavor of dispensational arminianism: (SBC, Methodist, and a Spanish Pentecostal). When they come in it is always a time of encouragement in the Lord, as when I make sales calls on them at their business or church. In talking with them, they are orthodox on the Trinity, have a somewhat muddy soteriology (none of them espouse working for their salvation, even though their doctrine would say otherwise), and the junk-food eschatology of dispensationalism.

    I pray for them daily for safety, success in business, their particular mercy ministries (all of them delight in doing good for the Lord), and for their families. I also have several customers that are employed by churches (managing facilities and lawn care) that I pray similarly for. I have not made it a point to pray for their theological understanding to be corrected. I do pray for their institutional churches - but it is for God to stop the error of these churches and to protect the elect from their false teaching. The only imprecatory prayers I make are against the Pope and papists, Muslims, Marxists, Pelagians, and False Teachers.
  2. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I gladly accept fellowship from all brethren and will discuss doctrine as folks are open. We should always pray for the purity of the church and her teaching, including our own! And I make a point to pray for the mainline Presbyterian church downtown as I go by.
  3. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Think Paul would be a great example of how to pray for any real christian church and christian.
    Ephesians 1:15-23
  4. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    One of the hardest things for a local church to do is to pray for the neighbouring churches. They may be of a different denomination to ourselves and may have that different theological perspective yet many of the Lord's people are found within them.

    I often wonder what it would be like if the neighbouring churches to our church were the churches of the New Testament and how we would deal with joint meetings, mission etc. For example if the church at Corinth wanted to join with us to pray together or if the Galatian church wanted to hold a joint outreach into a local housing estate how would we respond? Would we want to be linked with a church where there were such immoral goings on tolerated within the church (like Corinth) or were adding law to the gospel by insisting on certain practices such as the Galatian church?

    Having spent much time observing the church scene and putting things into perspective, recognising what is important to us and whether this is the same as what is important to genuine Christian unity across the denominations. Having spent much time thinking about grace, humility and recognising the work of the Holy Spirit in the churches and lives of its members I do believe it is incumbent upon us to pray for the Lord's people in other churches.

    Whenever I am driving along the road and I pass a church with a banner advertising some mission then I always pray the Lord would do a genuine work through that church.

    In terms of individual Christians I have never prayed that anyone would become a Calvinist but rather people would grow in the grace and knowledge of God, that they would be more fruitful in the Christian life, that their love for God would grow and their relationship with him would deepen.
  5. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1978 Puritan Lecture "John Bunyan and Church Unity" gives a helpful insight here. All Christians are "in Christ, "baptised by the Spirit" etc, so we have true unity with all Christians regardless of doctrinal error. I guess from a practical standpoint the greater degree of error, the more difficult it is to achieve true unity. But praying for other (non Reformed) Christians is smething we can certainly do to uphold our oneness in Christ.
  6. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your loving responses. I often hear criticism of us reformed folk for being harsh, but you demonstrate a solid response without the mushy ecumenicalism of so many.
  7. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    We are commanded by the Lord Himself , as we are to strive to keep the unity of the Body already set up by the Holy Spirit.
    This does not mean that we stay united when their are issues with heretical doctrines, but as long as within biblical boundary for doctrines and practices.
  8. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.—Luke 9:49, 50
  9. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    I see nothing wrong with praying that others who are in union with Christ would grow ever more in their knowledge of the truth and in right practice. If we most surely believe certain things, it can only be good to pray that God would give other Christians that same understanding.
    I can pray in good conscience that every Christian will become a Reformed Baptist, knowing that sooner or later, whether in this life or the next, they will.;)
  10. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Could you please explain this statement?
  11. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't know the reason for your question. If you are unsure of how best to handle this topic, please talk with your Elders and Pastor first, don't just listen to me - who is just 'some guy on the internet'. What follows is my brief laymanish explanation of what that kind of prayer is.

    An imprecatory prayer is one that asks God to judge and stop, with force if necessary - a curse if you will, someone from continuing in their defamation of God's name, His Glory, or evil persecution of God's Kingdom: the church and its people. King David often prays such prayers. See Ps 69:22+ for an example or the more extreme (to our ears) Ps 137:9. There is a view that the Psalms are Christ's prayers to the Father. I have not done the necessary work to affirm this view. But I believe it to be common. There are other similar prayers throughout the OT. Jesus also seems to curse the Pharisees in Ma 23:1- 36; Paul in 1 Tim1:20 may also be cursing some false teachers. While not prayers specifically, they could be carrying the same idea.

    There is a need to be cautious with these prayers, because I don't want to sink into a vengeful state of mind, and allow that sin to pass through my prayers as if legitimate. The battle is the Lord's, I am but a foot soldier. I pray for the salvation and mercy of those who have hurt or wronged me, Christ has been merciful to me. So my aim when I do pray imprecatorially, is to pray against God's enemies - those who would defame His name, and dishonor Him. So I do pray against those listed because, in my opinion, they are all actively working to defame God's glory, undermine God's Kingdom directly, or to lead God's people astray and thus His Kingdom indirectly.

    The WCF 25:6 specifically calls the RC Pope the antichrist, because he would put himself in the place of Christ as Head of the Church. So I feel quite confident in calling him out specifically. [NB some American/modernized versions of the WCF that, wrongly, exclude some of this language].

    If this kind of prayer offends you, bother your, or in any way negatively impacts your walk with the Lord, I urge you not to follow my example. While I am convinced that I am praying in accordance with Scripture, I am aware of other Godly people who would disagree with me. I don't not want to be a stumbling block or participate in the shipwrecking of your faith. I have spoken frankly on this forum understanding that most here are mature in their faith, and can deal with divergent ideas within a confessional framework. If you are new to the faith, please heed my advise to speak to your Pastor and Elders about this.

    [REPEAT] If you are unsure of how best to handle this topic, please talk with your Elders and Pastor first, don't just listen to me - who is just 'some guy on the internet'.
  12. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    I think of Jesus on the cross who could have prayed for judgment upon those who put them there or with one word could have destroyed the baying crowd around him. But rather prayed, "Father forgive them they know not what they do."
  13. beloved7

    beloved7 Puritan Board Freshman

    I think that there is so much freedom found when one truely, fully realizes the gospel of grace. That is perfectly appropriate to pray for in regards to our arminian breatheran in my humble opinion.
  14. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you - you answered the question adequately.

    I am one of those that do not agree with praying such prayers, but as in many other instances we realise here on the PB that people differ a lot from each other. :)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  15. ScottishPresbyterian

    ScottishPresbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    In the second petition... we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed.

    I think it's possible, and in my view right, to pray for this with reference to all of the classes mentioned in the OP (and several others). I'm not sure that I would call these imprecatory though, if I understand your meaning correctly. Our prayer is surely for the downfall of these systems of error and sin which form the kingdom of Satan in this world, and that those in bondage to them might be delivered from them, rather than imprecatory against the individuals in bondage to the false systems of wickedness.

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to have said "The only imprecatory prayers I make are against the Pope and Papacy, Islam, Marxism, Pelagianism, and False Teaching" - my editions in bold, and we may well add Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. At least I hope that is more accurate, I don't see a scriptural case for raising imprecatory prayer against people who are enslaved by false religion, though it is our duty to raise it against false religion itself.

    Edit: I do agree that in light of the Pope's position as the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition, he may be an exception to the rule in the last paragraph, although my own persuasion is that I should refrain from praying for him, but not necessarily to actively pray against him, though I should do so against his false religion.
  16. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    But the false religion is pushed forward by those who are enslaved by it. I think you can pray that God will judge those who never end up repenting before death and also pray for their repentance.
  17. ScottishPresbyterian

    ScottishPresbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    Possibly - that's a certainty anyway, both of peddlers of false religion and, solemnly, of the many who will say in that day "Lord, Lord...". I feel it is my duty to pray for their repentance and for the demise of the false doctrines they preach, but I don't think it is my duty to pray for their damnation on the contingency that they do not repent.
  18. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I hear what you're saying, but I pray for plenty of certainties, like for Jesus' return and other eschatological things.
  19. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I also like to model my prayers after various good prayers in scripture, such as the imprecatory psalms, which got us here. I think those are our words and well as our Head's (and David's).
  20. ScottishPresbyterian

    ScottishPresbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed, fair point.

    I'm not altogether convinced of the parallels between Judas, Babylon, and other such enemies of Christ, and individuals in our day ensnared by a false religion. Sure there are some parallels, but I'm not convinced they're of the nature that warrant us to apply the imprecatory Psalms to these individuals. I definitely wouldn't be dogmatic about this and hope I haven't appeared to be, I just don't see the connection. When I sing the imprecatory Psalms I generally don't have such people in mind.
  21. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    As a follow up to my original question, I have taken the great counsel given by many of you and toned down my prayer to focus on asking for an end to the doctrinal error and restraint and repentance for those who perpetuate such errors. While I still hold to WCF 25 VI where the Pope is the antichrist, I no longer pray for him personally except for restraint and repentance.

    Because of the many errors both through evil intent as well as ignorance, I now start with myself praying that any error in my thinking be the first to be dealt with before dealing with everyone else's error (remove my plank first...!).
  22. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    My attitude toward churches (and individual believers) that are true churches and Christians, but with varying degrees of reformed belief and practice, has changed a lot over the course of the past year, and especially the past few months. I see so well that Christ has said, 'do not forbid them; whoever is not against us is for us.' It's very humbling and correcting; the mercies and mind of the Lord are startling sometimes, we are more stringent many times toward people than He.
  23. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    If I were to open the lid to the basket holding my sinful inclinations, you might see this prayer:

    "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, Arminians, charismatics, wooden literalistic fundamentalists, or even as this clapping Evangelical.

    I read only reformed commentaries, argue with sloppy theologians on the internet, keep a prayer journal that I post for others to emulate, and I am always humbly correcting error in others."

    May God grant, instead, that I will stand far off, crying out “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
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  24. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Know of any good sermons on imprecatory Praying? Or Imprecatory Psalms?
  25. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    No, at least not that I can think of, sorry.
  26. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe look up James E. Adams who wrote “War Psalms of the Prince of Peace;” he has some YouTube videos on the imprecatory Psalms, and also has a Sermon Audio presence. I haven’t read his book but have heard it highly recommended.
  27. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Jeremiah Burroughs says some things on imprecatory prayers:;view=fulltext

    The main snippet,

    "First, We may curse them disjunctively, Lord either take them out of the way, or keep them that they may not do such mis∣chief in the Church: or thus, conditionally, If thou seest Lord that they be implacable, thou knowest them, if so, let thy wrath and curse pursue them; Lord, thou seest what evil they are set upon, and therefore rather than they should at∣tain their mischievous designs, let thy wrath and curse pursue them: so we may do it, but not absolutely to curse any, though they should do us never so much wrong, we are called to blessing: But now in zeal to God, take heed that we be not carried on in our own passion; but being sure it is zeal to God, we may wish the curses of God to pursue those that God knows to be implacable; this is but an appealing to God, and not at all fastning it upon any particular persons that we know, but leaving it unto God for the execution of it, and so in a zeal to the Glory of God, we may do it, and we are war∣ranted so to do by the second Petition, Thy Kingdom come: for that Petition that requires us to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, doth also require that we should pray against all means that hinder the coming of the King∣dom of Jesus Christ, so that every time that the Church praies, Thy Kingdom come, or any praies, Thy Kingdom come, they do as much as say, O Lord, Do thou set thy self against all the Enemies of thy Kingdom; if they belong to thy Ele∣ction, Lord convert them, but otherwise Lord confound them. Now thus we see how we are to sanctifie the Name of God in Prayer, in regard of the Matter of the Prayer; but now for the Manner of Prayer. The most things I confess are there."
  28. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    Also, we sing imprecatory psalms, and psalms are prayer-like.
  29. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I know you're a good guy, but I fear there's a new normal, where one will think, "I thank God that I do not pray like the Pharisee".
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