Friday, March 28, 2014

Praying As First-Hand Experience With God (PrayerLife)

Green Lake Conference Center, Wisconsin

In 1977 I taught a course on prayer in Northern Baptist Theological Seminary's Master's program. My main assignment for the students was this: Pray 30 minutes every day. I knew that in a course on prayer the students had to themselves engage in praying. To not pray in a prayer class would be like taking a swimming class and never get in the pool.

A few students objected to this assignment. Instead of actually praying they wanted to read some academic books on prayer and write a paper on prayer. How absurd! You'll learn more about prayer by actually praying than you ever could get out of a book.

I'd rather talk with Linda than read a book about Linda. I'd rather sit on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea than read a book about it. I'd rather eat a Gino's Chicago pizza than look at someone else's photo of it. I'd rather taste and see for my own self than read about how good it tasted to others. 

Eugene Peterson expresses it like this:

"I want to do the original work of being in deepening conversation with the God who reveals himself to me and addresses me by name. I don't want to dispense mimeographed hand-outs that describe God's business; I want to witness out of my own experience. I don't want to live as a parasite on the first-hand spiritual life of others." (Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, Kindle Locations 175-178)

Rather than reading about prayer or talking about the wonderful prayer lives of the great saints, pray.