Monday, March 10, 2008

Calvinistic Prayer and Combined Bets

I enjoy reading philosophical articles, and this one (link) about combining bets happened to crosspolinate with some thoughts I had been having regarding prayer. There are certainly differences, but there are some interesting similarities.

You see, before something occurs, we - like David when his son was dying - may pray passionately for a particular outcome to occur. Nevertheless, after the event, we accept God's Providence as being for the best, despite the fact that it may that our prayers were answered (as David's was) in the negative.

One nice thing about Calvinist prayers is that we qualify our prayers (either explicitly, or - oftentimes - implicitly) as being "if it by Thy will." In other words, we do not pray for a particular outcome in the abstract. Furthermore, trusting in God, we are cognizant that the outcome God selects is the best outcome.

In a sense, therefore, we combine our bets. In the combining bets example, a person is given favorable odds of an event happening and favorable odds that it doesn't from another guy. In such a situation, the "rational" choice is to take both bets (leaving other factors out of the equation), because you are sure to lose one, and sure to win the other one, yielding you a net gain. Professional gamblers look for these sorts of situations, and leap on them, which is why one does not normally see bookmakers with dramatically different odds from one another.

A Calvinists prayer is somewhat similar: we are guaranteed a win. The professional gambler may have a favorite dog in the race, but he realizes that by combining his bets, he's assured himself of a good outcome. Likewise, by properly submitting ourselves and our perceptions to God's sovereignty, we are assured of a good outcome.

You prayed that your dog would live, and yet God took him? You are still a winner, for God works all things together for the good of the elect. If you trust in Him, you are a winner, even when you are a loser. With immense faith evidencing enormous grace from God, you can even submit to God's will to the extent that Job did, such that when:

- your enormous riches are reduced to ruin;
- your body is smitten with a horribly irritating and painful disease;
- your children all die at once; and
- your wife turns against God,

You can incredibly recognize that it is for the best, and praise God saying, the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord!

As with the combined bet, we don't need to know what the outcome of our prayer will be, to pray in faith, nothing wavering, because we pray that God's will will be done, while expressing our ofttimes-passionate preference for a particular outcome.

Blessed indeed be His name, whether He gives riches or poverty,


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