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Faithful Prayer in a Sinful World

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“You can never believe greater or better things than God can do for you. Even sin itself, which is the great (and really the only) evil; it is His enemy as much as yours: and you may be sure He would not have suffered its being in the world if He had not a power to correct and curb it, yea, and to destroy it, too, at His pleasure: take hold of His sovereign strength, and your work is done.” 

-Puritan Elisha Coles, “A Practical Discourse of God’s Sovereignty” 

It is easy for a Christian to be discouraged from prayer, because of the wickedness and suffering we see in the world. Do such things not show that God has no control over this world? How, then, can I trust Him to answer my prayers? This is a variant of the argument from evil used by atheists. How can your God exist, they challenge, if this world contains so much evil? 

That is because the unbeliever can draw no hope from the promises of God: “We know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans8:28). The Apostle Paul suffered far more than most modern Christians will ever know, beatings, imprisonments, and finally execution. Yet this same man put his hope in the awareness that God, far from being helpless, is the divine sovereign over all that happens, making it of eternal benefit to the one who experiences such things in this life. And that is what Coles describes in the quote at the top. The presence of evil and suffering in this world is only at the sufferance of a sovereign God, not a sign of His indifference or powerlessness. Furthermore, He uses such things to shape us into His servants, prepared to do His will both in this world and in the next.

         

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