Baptists and Prayer

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Jan 16, 2018.

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  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    So, another one for my Baptist friends: If your unbaptized toddler prays to God, and God clearly answers his prayers, is that evidence enough to treat him as a Christian?

    John says "We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him."

    I say this because our son (who will be 2 this Lord's Day) found out his friend was sick, and on his own came to us saying he wanted to help him, and he kept wanting to pray for him to get better. Sure enough, his friend is no longer sick. We hope and try to believe our little worshipper of God is a true disciple in His sight, and the Lord is answering His prayers.
  2. E.R. CROSS

    E.R. CROSS Puritan Board Freshman

    I have a problem with your "God clearly answers his prayers" statement.

    Sure, something a toddler prays for could come to pass, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the prayer was answered due to the child's prayer.

    I would not consider that to be conclusive evidence that my toddler, nor anyone else, has been born again.
  3. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    I'm still stuck at the part where a (barely) 2-year old cared, or prayed, or, for that matter, even spoke coherently...
    Our 2-year-old would just as soon bite his friend as pray for him (and the latter would have to be done "in the Spirit," as his vocabulary is still limited to utterances more akin to Ayapaneco
    than anything remotely English).
  4. ValleyofVision

    ValleyofVision Puritan Board Freshman

    My first thought is how impressed I am that your almost two year old came to you and asked to pray for a friend. When my daughter was almost two (she’s two 1/2 now) all I heard was gibberish and babbles about who knows what.

    Secondly, I’m adding on my own question: should we always assume that the Lord answers our prayers just as we asked. Say your son prayed for his friend but he got worse rather than better. Would your son assume that the Lord turned against Him and His prayers because He did the opposite of what He prayed for?
  5. Beezer

    Beezer Puritan Board Freshman

    The question is whether or not Baptists would interpret God answering the prayer of another to be a sign that the person has been born again? This being based on the belief that God doesn't answer the prayers of unbelievers?

    The short answer is no. I would consider a person to be a Christian once they've repented and believed.

    With regards to the specific details you framed the question in, is it not possible your soon-to-be two year old has simply learned the habit of praying for the sick during your time of corporate prayer and/or times of family worship and is imitating a learned behavior? I don't recall my children approaching my wife and I with serious prayer requests at the age of two; however, they learned from example and have made similar prayer requests known by five. However, again, I consider this to be a good thing, but I don't see any scriptural basis from which to consider the child to be regenerated and thus baptized based on what I perceive to be answered prayer.


    A question for you: does God answer the prayers of an unbeliever who was baptized as an infant? The unbeliever in this question could be 2 years old or 200 years old, the age doesn't matter. The person in this case has the sign and seal of the New Covenant, according to Presbyterian beliefs.

    Additionally, for added context, these prayers are offered to God from the lips of the unbeliever and not requests made known during corporate prayer that are offered up by an elder or during family worship where a believing member prays on behalf of those present. For the sake of the question, assume God knows the person is an unbeliever.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  6. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    How does treating your child like a Christian differ from treating your child like a Heathen?
  7. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I am sorry, my friend. I didn't see anything wrong with just asking questions that come to my mind. No secret motives whatsoever. I'm just a curious person.
  8. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    This is actually interesting. So, when this happened with our son, we encouraged him that the Lord hears him. It seems like Baptists from what I can tell would be quick to doubt.

    Btw, yes, our son speaks very well, and has a sweet heart much of the time. He is a blessing to the world. Sometimes a better follower of Jesus than I am, it seems.
  9. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Ryan, I don't find that the well-schooled Baptists I know would answer this question any differently than would the well-schooled Presbyterians I know. Both would take the child's desire to pray as a hopeful sign that the kid might be demonstrating true faith.

    How God in his wisdom decides to answer the prayer is not considered the best way to measure the faith of the one who prays, unless you ascribe to Word of Faith teachings or something similar.
  10. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Good question. I'm not too sure, but I would imagine no. I don't know exactly where covenant status puts someone in that case. Maybe a more knowledgeable Presbyterian can chime in.
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Jesus stated to us that God causes rain to fall upon both the just and unjust, and His goodness towards the lost is to have then give Him the glory and recognize his blessings towards them.
    And the proof to me that my children received Jesus as their Savior was that they had a changed heart towards the bible/prayer/and going to Church.
  12. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    In light of the verse you used, how do you account for Cornelius, who was a devout man and prayed to God alway, but was unregenerate until Peter's preaching? Or what about Lydia, who worshiped God, but her conversion happened after she was a worshiper?
    Perhaps it is that Jesus will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax that is seeking Him, even if they are ignorant, and unregenerate, and yes: even if they are children.
    Your notion that Baptists somehow hold their children as contemptible because they are not yet by faith part of God's covenant people is a sad caricature. I'm sorry that you have met baptists who think that way, but let me assure you that that is not the norm. We all pray fervently for their salvation, we all teach them the things of God, we all encourage them to seek the Lord early while He may be found. We all teach them that they need not reach a certain age in order to seek Christ, for He declared that the little children should have suffrage, and the Kingdom of Heaven is for such as they are.
  13. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for your input brother. You always help shed light to make your interpretation and denomination appear to be honoring to our Lord.
  14. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the fact that the child got better is neither here nor there when considering your question. I would look more at your child's heart/actions which seems to be promising. Also, sounds like you've got a pretty sharp kid! :D
  15. SavedSinner

    SavedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

    Baptism does not save anyone. Presbyterians do not teach baptismal regeneration and no one can pray to God apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.
    But what I think has confused some Baptists into thinking that Presbyterians believe in some kind of magical grace in baptism is the widespread belief in Kuyper’s “presumptive regeneration” across much of the reformed world, especially the CRC. Even though this teaching is not in our Standards, many reformed people continue these speculative assertions that their covenant children are saved. Rather than speculate, we should hold to God’s covenant promises that he will be our God and the God of our children and proclaim the Gospel day-in day-out. Judge the fruit, not hearts. If he is a believer, the fruit will make it evident. As reformed worship has become more Lutheran in recent years and the “absolution” has been added to the order of worship, I think this shows how unbalanced it has become. The so-called absolution addresses the regenerate but ignores those in the congregation who have not yet believed the Gospel. This is presumptive regeneration baked-into the liturgy. We expect it with the Lutherans and the Episcopalians, but not from the Presbyterians. So it is no wonder that Baptists would be scratching their heads.
  16. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I do apologize if I am becoming annoying with talking about questions for Baptists. I will stop doing it, as I don't want to offend anybody. I just thought we are all united in love in Christ, and it would be fun and interesting to see why we practice what we do. I am always desiring to learn, and this has been a topic of interest lately.

    As well, with our son, I've really been trying to figure out how I view him in the Lord. To me, even apart from covenant status, it just seems like God has blessed him with grace. He sings about Jesus, he apologizes when he sins, he listens to the Word, he loves people, he asks to help people, when he hears an ambulance siren he asks us to pray, etc. I say this not to boast at all, but just that I wouldn't know how to not treat him as a disciple. That is why I am curious about the beliefs of my baptist brothers. I know there must be good and biblical reasons to them to believe what they do, I just want to know them.

    Anyway, I won't ask anymore of these questions, and thank you all for your input and for helping me understand other teachings.
  17. Gwallard

    Gwallard Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for asking them! I'm enjoying them, though some others seem to be getting annoyed. The questions are fun, and the answers are informative. Thank you, and thanks everyone!
  18. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Not annoyed in the least, and usually happy to be able to clarify, though perhaps I tend to muddy the waters rather than otherwise.
    However, I believe that Presbyterians and Baptists must view their children in exactly the same way: shapen in iniquity; conceived in sin; at enmity with God until He is pleased to give them new hearts. That God does this when and where He pleases is pretty much boilerplate for both groups.
    As for teaching them all about God from their earliest days, this is the plain duty of all parents, expressed both in the Mosaic law and in the NT epistles. It nowhere says to wait until they have a credible profession to catechize them; it says we are to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Regardless of the status of their hearts!
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  19. ValleyofVision

    ValleyofVision Puritan Board Freshman

    Not annoyed brother. I look forward to the variety of questions asked on this board.
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I am a baptist, and appreciate your questions, as know that you are sincere and looking to have better understanding on what we believe and why.
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I think one of the main reason Baptists scratch our heads is that sometimes it does seem that there is a teaching that almost makes out all children who have been baptized and raised up and confirmed within the church as having automatic salvation applied towards them.
  22. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The first thing to note is that there is an aberrant term used in our age, that being like Rome uses; that baptism regenerates every time; or the Boston movement Church of Christ. Presbyterians agree with BR, but not in an absolute sense; Presbyterians believe that God does at times use the sacrament, specifically to save certain individuals:
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
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  23. M. Sweeney

    M. Sweeney Puritan Board Freshman

    We had an almost two year old very much like that-- a few, in fact.
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    That God regenerates/saves by the ordinance itself being applied then?
  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    At times.....if he so wills.
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    We would agree that is not the normal way that He chooses to apply saving grace towards us though, correct?
  27. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    WCF ch 28:
    I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

    VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    Does God use this means normally? I would say yes. Absolutely? No. As mentioned, if He wants to regenerate an infant at baptism, He has the prerogative.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
  28. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Reformed and other Baptist cannot agree on those points then, which is fine, as still one in Jesus.
  29. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Scott, is the way you're reading the Standards here (that God normally regenerates at baptism) the typical, historical way this has been understood? I am sure there are PB threads on it (seems like there was one not long ago) but I don't have time to research.

    I haven't read ch. 28 1. and 6. as speaking
    to regeneration at baptism, but as saying that the efficacy of baptism lies in its right use, which would be pursuing holiness as a baptized covenant member in the fear of the Lord.
  30. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

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