As I've been studying prayer, I've come across several resources that are really helpful. You'll find quotes from each of these books highlighted as part of this series:
- A Praying Life by Paul Miller
- Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
- Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (pages 158-67)
Here is the third of seven obstacles:
3. The Culture of Secularism. What I mean by this is the belief that there is a disconnect between "God’s world" and the "real world." We might ask, "Can I talk to God about everything? Should I just pray about important things or spiritual things?" Honestly, I would guess that most of the time, people wouldn't even ask these questions, because they don't consider praying about everyday matters. That is because, in our culture, we inherently think there is a disconnect between God’s world and the real world. This mentality comes from the Enlightenment. Since that period in history, people in the West have thought of the “sacred/spiritual” world and the “secular/everyday life” world as two separate things.
But the Bible speaks against this division. In the Scriptures, all of life is spiritual. But it is hard for us to believe this. Jared usually comes into the church early on Sundays, and I drive in a little later with the girls for the 11:15 service. Sometimes we're running late, and I hope against hope that I don't have to park a mile away from the building and treck across Germantown with our three daughters. One week, we were running late and it was raining. However, a car pulled out of a spot on the street near the building just as we were approaching. I said to myself, "That was lucky." Then, I thought, "No, that was God's grace."
When we think about what a secular/sacred division looks like, we often think it looks like the people who go to church only on Easter and Christmas. But we are susceptible to this mentality! How many of us pray about finding a parking place when we are running late? Or for our child’s behavior before we drop them off at SojournKids? Or when we lose our keys? We can pray about everything, because all of life belongs to God. All of life is spiritual.
But it just seems really unspiritual! Really spiritual people don’t pray for things like that! We concentrate on praying for lost souls and God’s glory. Bonhoeffer points out that this kind of thinking stems from a desire to be more spiritual than God Himself, who instructs us to pray for the necessities of physical life and visible evidences of His gracious gifts in all areas of our lives. Just think about how Jesus instructs us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."
The response to living in a culture of secularism is believing that God is involved in every aspect of our lives, and we can pray about anything.
When we are tempted to divide the spriritual world from the “real” world we should be reminded that all of the world belongs to God as we see in Psalm 104:
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. 11 They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. 13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work. 14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: 15 wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
The 7 lies are adapted from Megan’s notes for the Child Dedication class.