Tuesday, May 15, 2018

To Learn to Pray, Pray

Williamston, Michigan

In 1977 I taught a course on prayer at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in its Master’s program. My main assignment for the students was to pray thirty minutes every day, for twelve weeks. I knew that, in a course on prayer, students had to engage in actual praying. To not pray in a prayer class would be like studying swimming while never getting in the pool.

A few students objected to this assignment. Instead of actually praying, they wanted to read books and write papers on prayer. How absurd!

You’ll learn more about prayer by praying than can be gotten from a book. I’d rather talk with my wife Linda than read a book about her. I prefer sitting on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea more than reading about it. I’ll take eating Gino’s Chicago Pizza over looking at photos of it. Better to taste and see for myself, 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."

- From Piippo, John. Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God, Kindle Locations 113-123.

My recent book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.