Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gurnall's Wisdom on Unanswered Prayer

I just started reading William Gurnall's classic The Christian in Complete Armour. Beware the trap that we can fall into when we consider Puritans; We view them as intellectual (they were), but almost to a fault of their not being able to really guide in a day to day walk with Jesus. However, I would make the case that your pastor is not the only one who benefits from their works. I'll share an excerpt from the book later to wet your appetite and show you just how "9 to 5" these guys could get!

"I can never read those old Puritans!  They talk way over my head and there is nothing in their books for me!" Banner of Truth has put out a modernized and abridged version of Gurnall's work in a three part series. And now you think "I can't read a modernized Puritan, that's like reading the message translation of the Bible!" Point 1: Puritans may have had the Spirit of God in their life but they did not necessarily write in an inspired and perfect format.  So, it is no sin for our brothers and sisters to help us understand the writing by editing it. Point 2: You are in a horrible position because Puritans were "doctors of the soul" and you could be holding yourself back from serious help. So either take a class on how to read 16th century English or get the abridged version here!

Here is a summary of Four Reasons God's Power is Sometimes Hidden from the Chapter titles The Saint's Call to Arms.

" 'But,' says some dejected soul, 'I have prayed over and over for strength against temptation- and to this day my hands are weak! No matter how hard I try, I cannot resist. If God's power is really engaged for me, why am I not victorious in my Christian life?'

1. You may have overlooked God's power
...Perhaps you prayed and expected God to answer in a certain way, but while you were watching for Him from the front window, He slipped in the back door. What I mean is this: you expected sudden relief from your trial, but instead God gave you greater strength to pray with greater fervor...

2. God may have purposely delayed His power
...When a mother is teaching her child to walk, she stands back a short disctance and holds out her hands to the child, beckoning him to come...because God loves his children, He sometimes lets them struggle to strengthen the legs of their unsteady faith...

3. The cause of hindrance of the blessing may be in yourself
If your heart is not set in the right direction when you appeal for deliverance, strength will not come...All He does for your own good, so that when your pride lies gasping, you will be forced back to Him.

4. God may call you to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds
...You must be resolved to live and die waiting, for that may be what He requires...The prophet was not sent to the widow's house until she had baked her last loaf of bread..."

(pp.57-58)