Archive for the ‘Providence’ Category

The Providence of God

Posted: November 26, 2013 by Alex Bigham in Prayer, Providence

“How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?” This was the question posed to George Washington, much to Washington’s delight, by Benjamin Franklin during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. With the participants of the Convention at an impasse of how to allow equal representation of the smaller States within the legislative branch of the proposed new government, Benjamin Franklin called for a break in the discussions, during which time he suggested political opponents talk to each other to work out their differences. Then he makes one of the grandest statements about prayer in the history of politics that illustrates how powerful prayer can be. (Statement and link below)

The providence of God can be much more powerful than the miraculous. Evidence can be seen in the building of our nation and to the counsel of its leaders. The Bible shows us how powerful prayer can be in the life of every righteous Christian. Read the complete story of the convention here or an abridged summary copied below from the website.

Men of means and education pursued a limited, federal government capable of providing political and economic stability in a land of diverse sectional interests. The fight for freedom had been experiential; much of the struggle for structure and unity would be theoretical. The doctrines of scholars would meet with the practical necessities of an emerging nation, resulting in a balanced blend of pragmatism and principle, the Constitution of the United States of America.

However, one of the most controversial issues, State’s representation, could have nullified the entire process. Tempers flared and interests clashed as the delegates sought their respective goals. It was within this quagmire of divisiveness that the elder statesman, Benjamin Franklin, offered his famous appeal for harmony and conciliation,” an appeal for God’s intervention.

Mr. President

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other,” our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes and ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, some we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. ”Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.

Benjamin Franklin

Constitutional Convention 1787

The above quote from Franklin shatters the modern historical revisionists’ idea that Franklin was an atheist or a deist. A deist may believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in it, but does not believe God intervenes in the affairs of man through his providence. You cannot come away from Franklin’s statement without the idea that Franklin and most of the Founders were indeed reliant on God’s providence during the Revolution and in the formation of our new government following independence. They expected all future generations of Americans to likewise depend on his divine protection, wisdom and kindness through prayer.

Providence or Miraculous Answer to Prayer?

God answers prayer today through his divine providence, not through miracles. A miracle was an act by God that defied the laws of nature. Providence is the manner by which God intervenes in our world through natural means that do not defy natural laws.  Miracles were always performed by prophets or the Apostles in the Bible. These men acted as the mouthpieces for God and used miraculous powers from God to prove their words were actually from God. Without the miracles performed by these men, their prophecies from God would not have been believable. New revelations from God were always validated by a miracle.  Once God completed his revelation to mankind, which is recorded in the Bible, there was no longer any need for the miraculous.

Jude 3 says “…contend earnestly for the Faith that was delivered once for all to the saints”, and shows us God’s revelation has been completed. I Corinthians 13:8-10 says, “8…if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”.  Paul tells us here that the revelations of God were coming piece by piece through prophecy and were validated by miracles. Paul also tells us that when the perfect comes, indicating the complete revelation of God, that these gifts will be done away with. Once God’s revelation to mankind was confirmed by miracles upon their delivery, then that revelation stands confirmed for all time. For example, there was never any need for Peter to perform a miracle in order to validate a revelation from Moses. Instead, Moses already had validated his revelations from God by his own miracles.

Anxiety and Depression

Many Christians today suffer from depression and anxiety. Paul in his letter to the church in Phillipi delivers some great mental health advice to us all. In Phillipians 4:6-7 Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.  Anxiety should not be a part of a Christian’s personality. Easier to say than to live! Paul tells us how to do it “…by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving…”  If you are not regularly going to God in prayer and laying your burdens at his feet, and giving him thanks for all the blessings you receive daily, then you may succumb to anxiety and depression.  When we don’t recall and recite our blessings, we tend to become absorbed in life’s difficulties. When we try to guide our life without consulting with the “Father of lights”, as Benjamin Franklin referred to God in his great speech during the Convention, then we begin to rely on our own understanding and undervalue the awesome power God can use to control our lives, our government, and our nation.

The Peace from God

Note the result of always turning to God in prayer, supplication and thanksgiving…”the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Paul tells us that for the Christian, who is righteous before God, when we come to him prayer and thanksgiving God will give us a peace that will guard our hearts. Philippi was a retirement military community and Roman colony. The Philippians were used to speaking in military terms and here Paul tells them and us, that God will guard our hearts, like two sentries guarding an important post. The result will be peace that surpasses our comprehension.  Peace that cannot come from self-help books or medication. Peace that comes through the knowledge that we are saved through the blood of Christ.  Peace between man and God. An internal peace from the stress and anxiety that everyday life can produce in those that do not lean on God. Peace in the knowledge that God knows all your cares and burdens and has the power to move heaven and earth to care for His people.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”, Matthew 11:28.