arminianism and prayer

Prayer reveals one’s theology. Jesus told a parable in which this principle is clear (Luke 18:9-14). Therefore, it would be quite strange if your theology that you hold to, is not reflected in your prayers. Arminianists seem to have a difficulty reflecting their theology of free will in their prayers. Charles Spurgeon picked this up in a sermon he preached. Below is an extract from it that highlights this discrepancy that arises from within the Arminian theology. As an outspoken Calvinist, and given his battle against the Arminianism of his day, it is understandable that he compares it with praying “like a Calvinist”. Be it so, it does show that prayer reveals theology, and begs one to pray before you formulate theology, as prayer is a true reflection of your theology!

“You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you never heard an Arminian prayer-for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying,

‘Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a change, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not-that is the difference between me and them.’

That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah, when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out, they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out. I ask you again, did you ever meet a Christian man who said, “I came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?” If you ever did meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, “My dear sir, I quite believe it-and I believe you went away again without the power of the Spirit; and that you know nothing about the matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.”

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