Theology dictates the manner of praying. Or, we might say, the type of praying reveals the kind of theology. A.W. Tozer once said: "I preach like an Arminian but I pray like a Calvinist."
Tozer reflected the sentiment of many believers in sovereign grace (Calvinists). Some even say that they, though Calvinists and Predestinarians, not only "preach" like Arminians but "work" like Arminians.
What the prayers of the apostles and saints of the new testament reveal about the Calvinist/Arminian controversy has long been a matter of debate and discussion. The denier of Predestinarian theology will find it contradictory for Calvinists to pray at all, for why pray at all if it is already fixed and determined? It is ironic that Hardshell Hyper Calvinists share this Arminian reasoning, although they would agree with Calvinists who affirm that Arminians belie their belief in the kinds of prayers they offer to God (which are generally like those of Calvinists).
Arminians pray like Calvinists
"Lord, save my friend." This would be the gist of most Christian prayers for others for whom they fear are lost and in need of salvation.
What such a prayer request reveals
Such a prayer reveals that the ultimate deciding factor in the salvation of any soul is the prerogative of God. It shows that the one uttering such a prayer believes that the one for whom they are praying can only be saved if God simply wills and makes it so. If God is already doing all he can to save the friend who is being prayer for, and is already as disposed as he can be to save that friend, then why pray that God save that friend? Would it not be more apropos to Arminian theology to pray to the sinner rather than to God?
"You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say, but you never heard an Arminian prayer - for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying,
'Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a change, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not-that is the difference between me and them.'"
I am sure that every Hardshell apologist would agree with Spurgeon.
One Hardshell elder wrote this about our topic:
"I as a Primitive Baptist pray that those lost in darkness...Not eternal darkness either might be shown the light in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ!...That they might know the extent of their eternal salvation. That they might be brought to the truth...The Biblical Truth!" (see here)
What does such a view of prayer reveal? Before that question is answered, let us first notice the Hardshell presuppositions that the above reveals.
1. Anything connected with eternal salvation is not to be prayed for
2. No prayer is to be for the regeneration of sinners
3. Prayer requests for the unregenerate must only be for temporal good
4. Prayer requests for the regenerate must likewise concern only temporal good
Hardshells Pray Like Absoluters
A typical Hardshell will pray, for instance, "Lord, save my friend (who is already born again) from error." In looking at this prayer, can we not apply the same reasoning we used in regard to how Arminians betray their theology by their prayers? Do not Hardshells (Conditionalist faction) betray their theology by their prayers? Does their prayers not reveal that the time salvation of their friends is a matter solely up to God? But, they do not believe this, but like the Arminian believe that temporal salvation is not up to God to determine, but up to the friend for whom they pray. Whether a man believes in Christ, repents of his sins, is converted to God and Gospel truth, perseveres and grows, etc., is not ultimately up to God, but is all the result of the will and effort of that friend for whom prayer is made.
A Sample of Paul's Payers
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Eph, 3:14-19)
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." I Thess. 5: 23)
According to neo Hardshell soteriology, Paul is being inconsistent to pray to God to do the things enumerated in the above passages, for it is not God who ultimately decides whether a Christian receives the good things listed, such as being strengthened to persevere, or to have Christ to dwell in the heart by faith, or to know the love of Christ, or to be preserved blameless to the coming again of Christ, for these are the result of the Christian's own free will and effort.
Further, note how Paul uproots Hardshell presuppositions and carnal reasonings by his praying for the saint's preservation to final salvation.