Gary: Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature of our program, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here is this week’s question, which is actually a comment: “Someone gave me one of your newsletters, which I thought was Christian. But I was shocked to read that you are against prayer, especially National Prayer Breakfasts in which our leaders pray for our country. Your views seem more like a cult than Christian.
Tom: Dave, we have said some things about prayer breakfasts—certainly in no way, from anything that we’ve ever written or spoken about, are we against prayer! Without prayer, we wouldn’t have a prayer.
Dave: Tom, I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, although I don’t let it get me down, but sometimes you could almost feel like “Why try?” People seem to want to believe what they want to believe. And they interpret your words the way they want to interpret them, particularly critics, you know. And for anyone to get the idea that we’re against prayer, what we said I don’t know. They must have a predisposition of this, or a prejudice in their minds. They just don’t like what we say, and therefore they’re going to twist it around.
What have we said? First of all, about The National Day of Prayer, I’m concerned, because although this is led by evangelicals, they say in their literature, they say on radio or television that “We are inviting everyone, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, everyone to join us in prayer to God.”
Now, wait a minute! Many of these people have a false God. But we’re going to invite everyone. So we give the impression that it doesn’t matter to what God you pray, or who you are. Paul writes: “I would that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” There are some conditions to prayer.
Jesus said, “Hitherto you’ve asked nothing in my name. Ask, and it will be given to you.” We come to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. And now we have people who are not Christians, and we, as Christians—why don’t we as Christians get together and pray? No! We’re inviting everybody to pray.
It’s like Elijah inviting the prophets of Baal and the pagans around them, “Let us all get together and beseech God as we understand Him to be for a blessing upon Israel.”
So, that’s what we’re concerned about. It’s an undermining of prayer. We’re trying to stand for true prayer. Now, as far as prayer breakfasts go, I think this is a wonderful thing! Let’s get together and pray. Now, originally, prayer breakfasts—well, they were intended as an outreach, like Christian Businessmen’s Committee. I’ve spoken at many of these. And you invite your unsaved friends, and you bring the gospel to them.
But soon it became politicized. We have a prayer breakfast in Washington DC annually, for example. The Presidential Prayer Breakfast. And here is, just as an example, and I don’t have… you surprise me with all these things, Tom, and I don’t have any notice…
Tom: I like you to be surprised, Dave.
Dave: Right. I don’t have any notes before me, but I think it’s…let me just take from the 1993 Presidential Prayer Breakfast. I think it’s Al Gore, who said something to the effect, “We are gathered here, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, in the name of Christ.” And I think it was Senator Kerry, John Kerry, who read from John 3, and he read verses 1-20, but somehow he left out verse 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And he said, “Jesus is speaking of renewal. Spiritual renewal! And now, with a new president and vice president, we have spiritual renewal.”
So, what happens is, we don’t want to offend. Now, instead of bringing the gospel to these people, this becomes a political venture, and we’re going to try to please everyone and sort of pretend that we’re all in this together. In contrast, I’m looking at Acts:17:17. This is about Paul: “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”
Paul was upfront about this! He said, “Look, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Peter said, “There’s no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And so, he presented the gospel. If it offended people, well, at least they recognized that what they believed was different from the gospel of Jesus Christ. And Paul pleaded with them, he persuaded them, he tried to bring them to faith in Christ.
Now, that was the original idea of prayer breakfasts, but now it’s a political venture, where we kind of join together in unity, we won’t offend anyone, so we can’t really present the gospel that saves. In fact, we delude people into thinking we’re all taking different roads to get to the same place. And I’m concerned about it!
Tom: The false gospel of universalism—that everyone, no matter what path they take, they’re all going to get to God.
Dave: But, Tom, just for us to say this. It’s a conviction of our heart. We’re trying to get back to the Bible. Then we become the bad guys. “You don’t believe in prayer,” you know. It’s…no! That’s not what we’re saying. Please listen to what we’re saying. If what we’re saying is not biblical—if what we are saying is not for the good, the eternal good, of souls for whom Christ died, then reprove us on that basis. But let us not undermine the Word of God and His truth in order not to offend!