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Prayer a daily conversation with ‘Dad,’ Hemphill says

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A seminary president who doesn’t know how to pray effectively? It can happen, according to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill.

Hemphill admitted during a July 29 guest appearance on “Life Today with James Robison” that he never had a “heaven-grabbing, life-changing prayer life” despite having grown up in a Christian home with a father who was a Baptist preacher for 55 years.

“I prayed,” Hemphill said, “and if I hadn’t prayed I wouldn’t be where I am right now.” Prayer, however, was not at the top of his ministry list, he said. “It was always somewhat of a struggle — not an embarrassment but a struggle.”

Life Today, named 2002 Television Program of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters, is broadcast to more than 120 million homes each weekday in the United States, Canada, Australia and in countries throughout Europe.

Always action-oriented and more concerned about what he could do for God rather than intimacy in prayer, Hemphill said it wasn’t until he discovered the depths of the prayer of Jesus or the “Lord’s Prayer” that his prayer life changed.

Hemphill finally figured out that Jesus wanted his disciples to pray to God as if they were talking to their earthly fathers.

“Nobody in Jesus’ day would have dared call God ‘Father,'” Hemphill told Robison, but prayer is “talking to a God who allows us to call him ‘Dad.'”

The purpose of prayer, he said, is not to alert God to needs because he already knows what his children need.

“He’s omniscient. He can see the future. He knows what I need,” Hemphill said.

“Why tell him then?” Robison asked.

“Because he wants us to,” Hemphill answered. The Christian’s relationship with God in prayer ought to be like a child who crawls into a father’s lap to talk about what he or she wants for Christmas or simply to talk, he said. “This prayer [the Lord’s Prayer] is about a daily conversation with ‘Dad.'”

In order for that to happen, however, the person has to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, Hemphill added. Otherwise, God may not be called “our Father.”

Robison invited Hemphill on the broadcast to discuss his recent books, “The Names of God” and “The Prayer of Jesus.” Both books are published by Broadman & Holman, the trade book arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, and are available from LifeWay Christian Stores and other Christian bookstores across the country.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: HEMPHILL ON PRAYER.

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  • Gregory Tomlin