Reason, Prayer, and Why They Go Together Like PB and J
May 6th was the National Day of Prayer and Day of Reason—a thought-provoking combination.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "The way to see by Faith, is to close the eye of Reason." Now, I respect Ol' Ben and can see his point in some respects. But I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether Reason and Prayer can be compatible, not only on May 6th but every day of the year.
Upon searching further, I found a wide range of opinions in the faith vs. reason debate. Many scholars and philosophers and general smarty-pants think it is just that: a debate of faith versus reason. Others, however, don't see the two as incompatible at all, and that's the camp I tend to find myself in.
William Adams says, "Faith is a continuation of reason," calling to mind the example of Lee Strobel—an atheist and journalist who went on a mission to disprove the resurrection of Christ. He took the most logical approach possible, interviewing experts, diving into in-depth research, and in the end, he found that the logical facts pointed to Christ. So, what was his reasonable next step?
If by using reason Lee Strobel came to a place where logical evidence pointed to Jesus, the next step would be faith in Jesus. The two are not at odds with one another; reason brought him so far, his only logical way forward was faith or—on the other hand—ignoring the evidence and going on his merry way. That, of course, raises a problem: wouldn't ignoring the logical evidence be the definition of unreasonable?
The answer is yes. Which is why Lee Strobel, J.P. Moreland, and countless other logical, reasonable, fact-seeking people have chosen faith in Jesus as a natural extension of their reason. They didn't have to cover their eyes and jump into something they knew nothing about to have "faith." They didn't turn off their brains and take the Word of God at face value without doing any digging of their own. They used the reason God gave them to seek Him out . . . and guess what? He used their reason to bring them to Him.
It's true that what some people call "reason" can be a stumbling block between us and Christ, and it's true that sometimes following Christ means doing and believing things we may not understand at all. But in the question of faith in Jesus, simple salvation, I truly believe that reason and faith/prayer go hand in hand—as long as our "reason" is a genuine desire to seek the truth, not an excuse to plug our ears to God's call.
As Galileo Galilei put it, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use."