proof of faith

Here’s another essay that comes with click-through videos, the latest in devotional technology.  The videos are very sad but worth watching, if you haven’t seen them.

read > Psalm 14:1-7

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God”….They eat up my people like bread and wouldn’t think of praying to the LORD (v. 1-4).

The renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens was dying.  Decades of heavy drinking and smoking had given him cancer of the esophagus, and now he was facing a brutal regimen of chemotherapy and a bleak prognosis.  His thinning hair, weary eyes, and parched, halting voice were signs of a beaten man, yet he softly reaffirmed his unbelief in God

        Hitchens said that others could pray for his recovery if they wished, but he did not believe that such “incantations” made any difference.  The only way he would ever pray for healing is if the cancer spread to his brain and turned him into a “raving, terrified person.”  As long as he remained in his right mind, he would “not be taking part in that.”

        Despite his tragic response, Hitchens has hit on something important:  prayer is the proof of faith.  Psalm 14 declares that “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God,’” and they show their commitment to atheism by refusing to pray to the LORD. 

If Hitchens proves his lack of faith by not praying, how do we who believe demonstrate our faith?  You guessed it.  John Calvin observed that “The principal exercise which the children of God have is to pray; for in this way they give a true proof of their faith.” He added that anyone who does not run to God dishonors him “as if they made new gods and idols, since in this way they deny God is the author of every good thing.”  

We may say that we believe in God, but if we can make it through our day without prayer then we are pretty much like Hitchens.  Let’s repent of our practical atheism and carve out time to talk with God.  Ask him for whatever you need, and when you receive it, give him thanks.

6 Comments

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  1. Thanks Mike…great thoughts. The final paragraph ought to be quite convicting for many of us.

    I posted a link over at my blog.

  2. Mike,

    I’m with you all the way until the last sentence. Should I only thank God when he gives me what I ask for? What if God doesn’t give me what I ask for? I think you see where I’m going with that. Plus, I wouldn’t mind a devotional that ends with a reminder that prayer is more than us just talking at God and asking him for what we want.

  3. Hitchens deeply saddens me. Despite the fact that he is consistent with his beliefs, his consistency will lead in only one direction if Christianity is true.

    Praying to a non-existent entity is the height of foolishness and the mark of insanity. But, given God’s existence, prayer is the only sane thing to do!

    “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

  4. That is heart-breaking.

    On a mostly-unrelated note, have you more or less given up blogging? You used to be so REGULAR. Now, for a regular Baptist, you’re surprisingly irregular. Wait, this is all coming out wrong…

  5. Zach:

    I haven’t given it up, but I have to take care of my classes and other writing/speaking obligations first. I know that blogging is great synergy for everything else, but I’m trying to make sure I keep it in its proper place. I think most profs and pastors have to pace themselves, and the amount they blog tends to vary with whatever season they’re in.

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