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Prayer: Its Place in a Moral Government

by B.M. Palmer

The most fundamental law in this spiritual kingdom is that the will of the creature must be drawn forth on the human plane, just as articulately as the will of the Creator on the divine plane. These blend as the factors in the production of every event. Destroy either of the two, and history becomes a blank: it is no longer the record of human actions, nor of a divine government over the same. We may not be able to penetrate the mystery which enshrouds the union of the two, nor to measure the angle of intersection between these distinct planes of the human and divine agency. But the great truth stands out under the attestation of consciousness, that God governs man through his thought, conscience, and will. If sin has disabled these powers, rendering us impotent in our ruin, his infinite grace provides the needed relief. Divine power restores and quickens our shattered nature; but the entire process is in strict conformity with the laws of our spiritual economy. Light is poured into the understanding, and darkness is removed; conscience is purged from a sense of guilt by the blood of sprinkling, and ceases to accuse; the affections are renewed, so that they flow generously to God under the attraction of his holiness; the enslaved will is emancipated from the bondage of sin, and by its own polarity turns upon its pivot to the obedience of the truth. The entire change is wrought by a power from without; but in the very transformation and at every stage of its progress, and in every spiritual affection of his subsequent career, the Christian recognizes every thought and desire as his own, and feels his responsibility in reference to each. Under a full conviction of his individual accountability, he 'works out his own salvation with fear and trembling'-knowing at the same time that 'it is God who worketh in him to will and to do of his good pleasure'. Nor is he conscious of the least jar arising from the collision between the two agencies, both of which are equally necessary in their respective spheres. Just here, then, the office of prayer is found. It is not intended to move the spontaneous benevolence, nor to abridge the unlimited supremacy of Jehovah. Nor, on the other hand, is it merely designed reflectively to prepare us for the reception of a sovereign gift. It is ordained under a moral system that the creature's will may freely place itself upon the will of the Creator, and avow its coalescence with the same. It enters as an integer into the final result; and the whole moral nature of man is thus recognized in the sphere of grace, as in that of law.

From B. M. Palmer, Theology of Prayer (now reprinted by Sprinkle Publications).


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