Monday, June 26, 2017

Prayer as theology

From Abraham’s dialogue with God we learn not only that prayer has its origin in the movement of God toward humans but also that the divine response to prayers should lead to a fuller and deeper understanding of God and His ways with the world. With regard to the former, we noticed that the enabling initiative for this great intercession came from God (“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do”; Gen 18:17). After YHWH’s invitation to pray, God waited for Abraham’s response (Gen 18:22). With regard to the latter, we noticed that God, not Abraham, emerges as the theological teacher from this prayer. I shall argue at some length in the context of our treatment of Exodus 32–34 that prayer and theology are intrinsically linked. Possibly the greatest of all the features of Abraham’s prayer is precisely the way in which it calls on us, when we pray, to develop a theology. Clements observes: “Prayer and the act of praying involve us in theology—the thinking out of the true nature and character of the supreme Ruler of the Universe.” Not only must we think about who God is and how He relates to the world but also we must learn to listen to God. Abraham’s “theology” was taught by God Himself in a prayer. As Abraham wrestles with the divine will, which was not fully manifest at the outset of the prayer, he penetrates deeper into God’s character and will.—Standing in the Breach, page 52

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