Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teach Us To Pray

From Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book, pp. 106-107.

Luther, in his preface to the German Psalter (1528) wrote, "If you want to see the holy Christian Church painted in glowing colors and in a form which is really alive, and if you want this to be done in a miniature, you must get hold of the Psalter, and there you will have in your possession a fine, clear, pure mirror which till show you what Christianity really is; yea, you will find yourself in it and the true gnothi seauton ["know thyself"], and God himself and all his creatures too."

If the Psalms are our primary text for prayer, our answering speech to the word of God, then Jesus, the Word made flesh, is our primary teacher. Jesus is the divine/human personal center for a life of prayer. Jesus prays for us -- "he always lives to make intercession for [us]" (Heb. 7:25). The verb is in the present tense. This is the most important thing to know about prayer, not that we should pray or how we should pray, but that Jesus is right now praying for us (see also Heb. 4:16 and John 17). . . .

Prayer is shaped by Jesus, in whose name we pray. Our knowledge, our needs, our feelings are taken seriously, but they are not foundational. God, revealed in the Scriptures that we read and meditate upon and in Jesus whom we address, gives both form and content to our prayers. In prayer we are most ourselves; it is the one act in which we can, must, be totally ourselves. But it is also the act in which we move beyond ourselves.

In that "move beyond" we come to be formed and defined not by the sum total of our experiences but by the Father, Son, and Spirit to whom and by whom we pray.

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