Last year they were unable to make any of the conferences due to travel time conflicting with commitments to their involvement with the homeschool co op.
So I shared with them that the year 2014 would be different. I promised them that this year, they were going to a conference "by hook or by crook." And this year it happened, as they were able to attend the Truth for a New Generation apologetics conference, in Spartanburg, SC.
While they were down in Spartanburg, SC and I up here in the "Burg," I kept track of their conference times, and continued perusing the sessions and speakers. In my perusing, I noticed one seminar, "Prayer and Apologetics" which was given a couple of times and it really caught my attention.
This is an important issue for those of us partaking in the task of apologetics. I may also be an enigma for those trying to understand the discipline of apologetics. I can imagine questions coming up like, "Do apologists pray?" "Apologetics is so heady, do you ever pray or have time for prayer?" "What is the purpose of prayer in apologetics?" In this post, I hope to answer these and other unasked questions relevant to this issue of prayer and apologetics.
What is prayer?
Prayer is a spiritual discipline that helps us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to practice the presence of God. It is privilege for us to partake in the I/You (God) relationship that we have with our Lord. Prayer brings us to the place where we abandon our pride before a holy and loving God. Prayer is the place where we worship and have our hope lifted. It is a time to intercede for others, and make supplications. When we come to the Lord in prayer it is about aligning our will with God's will, adopting humility, and claiming our dependence upon God.
Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope, and it is the time where our Lord gives us the privilege communicating to the heart of the Father, through our relationship with the Son of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given us.
So What About Apologetics and Prayer?
Glad you asked. Since I have shared with us what prayer is, let me simply state that apologetics is a spiritual discipline as well. As a handmaiden to evangelism, apologetics gives us a confidence, not a "cockiness," toward the truth claims of the Christian faith. Unfortunately the latter is what is often conveyed by fellow believers who do not understand the purpose of apologetics.
So let me share with you three things about prayer and apologetics that might help on how to bring these wonderful disciplines together.
1. Bringing humility into the headiness of apologetics.
A while back I wrote a posting that shared why we need apologetics. One of those that apologetics is commanded by God, but it also brings confidence and assurance (Hebrews 11:1) to the believer in the truthfulness of what we cannot see in a world seeking to be dominated by empiricism and skepticism.
As an apologist, my dependence upon God is of utmost of importance. Prayer allows me to communicate with our High Command and bring my dependence upon Him to the forefront of my being. Prayer and dependence upon God keeps us humble and dependent upon His wisdom.
2. The direction of apologetics should keep us in prayer.
What do I mean by this? Simply stated, apologetics is about giving answers, in various ways. I will speak to those ways in just a moment. But as an evangelist and apologist, our wisdom is nothing in contrast to the wisdom of God. It is one thing to rely on one's own. It is another thing to rely on the One who is the source of all wisdom.
One thing I have heard from some of my mentors, and it still holds true. The questions challenging the Christian faith coming from our culture have not changed. The only thing that has changed is how the questions coming at the Christian faith are articulated. As the temperature against the Christian faith is continuing to be ratcheted up, I am finding that my wisdom is challenged, and my dependence upon the Lord is needed more and more; especially in giving the reasons for the hope that we have in Christ.
3. The recipient of apologetics should keep us in prayer.
Apologetics is not about giving answers to someone's questions. It is more than that. In fact, I believe apologetics involves four facets.
(a) It involves giving a defense. By giving a defense, we are giving answers and overcoming objections to the barriers set down by unbelievers.
(b) It involves providing proofs. By proofs I am talking about presenting a rational basis for faith that confronts unbelief in both the believer and the unbeliever. Yes, believers have times of doubt as well where apologetics will encourage them.
(c) Apologetics involves being on the offense. Any good defense must have an offense right? The offensive side of apologetics demonstrates the foolishness of the ideologies confronting the Christian faith in the unbelieving world.
(d) The last facet is one of the "apologetics of touch" or being what some are calling the "fifth gospel." It is living what we call the apologetics life, where we seek to continually demonstrate the gospel through not just the proclamation of the message, but living that message out by being the hands and feet of the One who gave us that gospel.
Notice that each of these facets of apologetics, have both the one giving the response or the message, and a recipient of that response/message. The recipient is of utmost importance, and this is where prayer comes in.
Prayer is not just for us. It also for the ones we minister among and minister to. People are believing all kinds of things. There are false teachings, from "pop Christian writers," creeping around in the churches encroaching the altar of God. As we prayerfully minister to people embracing a smorgasbord of ideologies and world views, we need to be interceding in prayer for those who receive that message.
These are some thoughts that came to me as I was journaling yesterday waiting for my girls to get home. But one thing I want you to know is this. Prayer is a very important discipline in the life of every Christian. And though apologetics can be seen as a heady task, we need to not only demolish the strongholds in the arena, but we need to fight the battles that go along with them on our knees.
A few things are for sure when all is said and done. First off I need your prayers and intercession as we seek to broaden our ministry. It is true that one cannot do apologetics without being in prayer; but we need your prayers as we engage the ideologies on the front lines. Secondly, we all need to be praying. That is what brings us to the throne room of God. I don't do enough praying like I should. Thankfully I pray not only on my heart, soul and mind prostrate before God, but also I pray with my eyes open. But one thing can be sure for all of us. Can any of us do too much praying? It does not matter whether or not things are easy or getting more difficult. Can any of us say we take ample time to pray? I think not.