Monday, September 30, 2013

Can God Hear That??

Can a Jew pray effectively for a believer?

This is a great question ... especially to open a forum of information to educate a much larger audience on the Judaic - Christian contrast. 

There are arguing sides of this equation.  Many protestant (organizations and individuals) throughout history have referred to Jews spitefully ... a very foolish thing to do.  So, naturally, when it comes to any type of ministry towards them it carries a flavor of malice.  Christians throughout history have repeatedly ignored the suffering of Jews, and in some measure have watched it with approval.

We need to always keep Romans 11 in mind when considering our Jewish brothers.  Here are some verses from that chapter that are vital for us when considering our relationship.

Rom 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, :3 "LORD, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS AND TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY SEEK MY LIFE"? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I HAVE RESERVED FOR MYSELF SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL." 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. 7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

Unlike the belief of many Christians, our Jewish brothers are still the chosen people.  God has blinded His people in order to provide the rest of the world with hope for redemption.  He has not cast them away.  He is no less aware of their plight now then when they were in bondage in Egypt.

Rom 11:16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Simply put, show some respect.  We better not dare participate or celebrate in or for any of the struggles our Jewish brothers have faced, are facing, or will face.  Instead, we are to remember and tread very carefully .. if God would sacrifice His beloved for us, then we would do well and wise to consider what He might do to us for others or in response to our pride.

Rom 11:23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; 27 FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."

God will restore sight to His children.  So those who have been hardened are not lost, nor are they cast away.  This is all part of a plan of redeeming His creation that goes way beyond anything we can ascertain or comprehend ... His justice is perfect, and we, as flawed creatures, just cannot understand perfect.  So our best move is to honor His children and their sacrifices and struggles.

Rom 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 

Every verse in this chapter is extremely important.  Many are constantly taken out of context (especially that last one.)  God's covenant with Abraham was (and is) an eternal covenant.  God has not stopped loving the Jews.  We often forget that we are the adopted brothers in this trio (Israel, Ishmael, and the Christians).

Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 

  • I believe that when the Bible says that "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry... (Psalms 34:15)" it means that whenever a child of God prays, He hears and responds regardless of whoever he or she is praying with (within reason - we shouldn't be allowing ourselves to be united in prayer with anyone who denies God His sovereignty).  Corey Ten Boon's father, Casper, was known for asking the Jews hiding in his home from the Nazi's to pray the blessing over the meals.
  • I believe that God hears the prayers of Jews, just not in the way He hears ours (through Jesus).  But they are His children under the covenant He made with Abraham.
  • I furthermore believe that by showing honor to the Jewish people and respecting the great losses they have experienced under the Law in order to give us hope, it brings joy to God and He will bless us for it.
  • I also believe that only through Christ is the forgiveness of sins ... I do not believe or give any credit to the notion of an alternate sanctification as some main stream preachers teach.  How God is going to accomplish His word is up to Him, not me.  As it has been said by others, "If I can understand all things God, then He is not God."
  • I believe that in God's limitless wisdom and love for us His plan will be revealed and that we cannot know or understand how ... we cannot know the mind of God ... but we can have the mind of Christ.  I think people often forget that Jesus was a Jew, and that the first Christians were Jews.

So to answer your question as honestly as I can, I believe that God hears the prayers of Jews who love Him and seek Him, though have not yet recognized the Messiah as Jesus.  If God will hear a prayer, then to me, it is effective.  If you pray and believe as a believer falling under the righteousness (bought and paid for) of Christ, then it is effective.

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16 

That's my take anyways ... awesome question.  So what are your thoughts?

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  1. Glad you posted this, Pat. Lots of helpful info on this subject is discussed at Ariel.Org if anyone wants to read more on this topic.

  2. I emailed Dr Fruchtenbaum for his position concerning this question...I hope to see his response when he is able ... currently very busy traveling and lecturing.

  3. I got to spend some time in Israel this summer. It was incredible! I have truly grown to love the Jewish people. Great post!

    1. Thanks! That is a trip I am desperate to take ... lucky duck!

  4. I too have been to Israel...twice, in fact. I think it comes down to the heart...just as it does with Christians.

    For far too long, Christians have seen themselves as superior to the Jewish people. For far too long, we have persecuted the Jewish the name of Jesus. :/

    To put my thoughts simply: God heard David, Abraham (while he followed idols!), Elijah, etc. The Jewish peoples' prayers have been heard For centuries before we Americans came on the scene!

    At the prayers of Elijah, a three year drought ended! I call that effective! =D

  5. @pathazard How would you reconcile this with 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6? (From twitter)

  6. Thank you for the question? I always appreciate opportunities to clarify positions.

    For all readers: opposing or contrary positions to points made are appreciated ... the point here is to bring information to the table, regardless if we agree, so the questioner can get information in order to make a well informed decision. I never consider it as disrespectful or anything similar.

    1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    The only way I can see a problem here would be the same with anybody praying for you ... if you feel you NEED the person praying IN ORDER for God to hear, then regardless WHO is praying for you, even a Christian, you are astray.

    Those verses, in my opinion, do not mean that if a Jew asks to pray for you, that you must, in honor to God, say "no." The question was basically whether or not God hears the prayers of Jews , more to the point, if a Jew offers to pray what should you, as a Christian, say. I personally don't see an issue here. I personally do believe that God hears the prayers of anyone who is truly seeking Him and responds. I do NOT believe in a dual salvation, however, or any such thing, as said before.

    I would have pause for concern for any person who decides he must seek out someone to pray for him or herself feeling inadequate to do so for him or herself.

    What are your thoughts?

  7. Thanks for the reply, Patrick. Here are my thoughts...

    Can a Jew pray for a Christian? Yes, of course... Does God hear those prayers? Yes, of course. He is God... He hears everything, sees everything, knows everything. However, the original question posed was, "Can a Jew pray 'effectively' for a believer?" I interpreted 'effectively' to mean "will God 'respond' to a prayer not prayed through faith in Christ... regardless of who prays it." The two passages I asked about, 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6, both clearly state that Jesus must be part of the equation... that intercession by God is through Christ alone. Your thoughts?

  8. Ruth!! I just spent like 45 minutes answering your question only to strike some random key and lose it all bc the page changed!!! Forgive me, I will get back to this tomorrow. You bring up excellent points. I appreciate the willingness to go deeper. Hold tight! I will respond!

  9. Hey Ruth! I'll try it again! Thanks for the comments ... I always appreciate them!

    To the point ... I don't always post the background to the questions asked of me. They can be lengthy and stray from the point. Additionally I often group several questions together as one when they are close to the same topic. If I remember correctly, one of the questions I received like this one spoke of an awkward interactions with a Jewish person where this person upon learning of a situation with the questioner asked if that person would allow him to pray. The questioner did not know what to do ... if that was ok.

    This situation is slightly strange to me bc true Jews wouldn't do that. But in the situation, I don't think it's wrong to allow it in order not to offend. I think the person was trying to compare it to a situation like a Hindu trying to enter into agreement in prayer with you as a Christian .. are the two identical situations.

    I agree with your statements for the most part but it is extremely important to realize that western Christianity buts a lot of walls up where they simply do not exist. This is why Christians from America and Europe, when they enter the mission field, often spend a great deal of time initially going through a rough transition ... bc God doesn't always fit in their box.

    There are many accounts where people of other beliefs who pray to God, not knowing Him, and He responds. For instance, a Hindu realizes within him or herself that nature defies what they believe and he finds fault in what he has been taught. Through nature, however, he sees that there is great order to creation and begins to reach out to the Creator not knowing Him by name and surely knowing nothing of Jesus ... and God responds. It happens more than we like to imagine .. many missionaries have shown up to unreached lands to find believers ... who do not call God by the name we have assigned Him but have obviously found Him.

    Jesus, when speaking in John 14 was speaking about going to heaven and what the life in Christ should look like .. that was the specific context. He was telling them about His departure and how they should live in while they wait for that ... the disciples were asking Him how they would get there. Using this as a demand of prayer ... it's a stretch that can get ppl in trouble. The specific context of 1 Tim was also salvation and teaching what the life of a Christian should look like.

    In John 14 - John 16 He states repeatedly that if we ask God for things in His name, they will be done. Talk about a scripture taken out of context. He was saying that if we get in His mind, so to speak ... submitted to the Father ... if we will do that then anything we ask for will be inline with what Jesus would ask for and we will have it ... not a Cadillac or a new jet to boast of. So it is good that we ask things in Jesus name ... but we should be sure we have aligned ourselves with His mindset ... the submission to the Father. Because so many decide for God what He should do and ask for the means to do it. When they don't get it ... they blame Him ... when the do ... they boast of their strength in Him. Satan hears our prayers too ... and can make things happen that allow us to fall into a snare.

    I find it interesting that when Jesus, Himself, taught us to pray (Matt 6, Luke 11) ... He did not say "do this in my Name." However, in James 5 (where we get the phrase "effective prayer" for this topic ...we are taught specifically to anoint in the name of the Lord.

    Truthfully, I don't (myself) allow anyone to pray with me that I don't know or trust. I'm not afraid of catching the cooties but I just don't bring people into my relationship with God in that way. This is off subject but I think it applies.

    So I say and teach that we should pray in His name because we can ... not so much because we have to ... but because we can and we should. It is the most amazing of privileges!