Mark, nice of you to avail yourself of the open comments policy at Old Life. I wonder what you think. But in light of your post about the efficacy of prayer and the way you left us at Old Life, I have a few questions.
First, you write:
There are some who know God’s will, pray with great faith, keep God’s commandments, and so have effectual prayers. That’s why the man, Christ Jesus, prayed with such efficacy.
I wonder after your encounter with Iain Duguid if your prayers were less effectual. You seemed to be upset, in my estimate, needlessly so. So I wonder if you could reflect on your own experience with holiness and prayer life after this recent episode of on-line banter.
Second, you sign off your post by invoking Machen’s telegram to John Murray: “Pastor Mark Jones is so thankful for the prayer life of Christ. No hope without it.” Are you on your deathbed? If so, how should we pray? And should we only pray after improving our sanctification?
Last, have you heard of John Calvin? You write this:
Consider the Apostle John’s words: “…and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 Jn. 3:22). This verse makes clear that receiving from God is connected to obeying God.
But listen to how Calvin renders that verse:
22 And whatsoever we ask These two things are connected, confidence and prayer. As before he shewed that an evil conscience is inconsistent with confidence, so now he declares that none can really pray to God but those who with a pure heart, fear and rightly worship him. The latter follows from the former. It is a general truth taught in Scripture, that the ungodly are not heard by God, but that on the contrary, their sacrifices and prayers are an abomination to him. Hence the door is here closed up against hypocrites, lest they should in contempt of him rush into his presence.
He does not yet mean that a good conscience must be brought, as though it obtained favor to our prayers. Woe to us if we look on works, which have nothing in them but what is a cause of fear and trembling. The faithful, then, cannot otherwise come to God’s tribunal than by relying on Christ the Mediator. But as the love of God is ever connected with faith, the Apostle, in order that he might the more severely reprove hypocrites, deprives them of that singular privilege with which God favors his own children; that is, lest they should think that their prayers have an access to God.
By saying, because we keep his commandments, he means not that confidence in prayer is founded on our works; but he teaches this only, that true religion and the sincere worship of God cannot be separated from faith. Nor ought it to appear strange that he uses a causal particle, though he does not speak of a cause; for an inseparable addition is sometimes mentioned as a cause as when one says, Because the sun shines over us at midday, there is more heat; but it does not follow that heat comes from light.