31 March 2008

Be Slow to Pray...but Pray Still

Here are some sage words from Eugene Peterson on prayer and the risk we run when we pray. No, he is not advocating any form of shying away from prayer, but rather a reassessment of what happens when we pray, and thus bidding us to take prayer much more seriously. Here's Eugene Peterson:
We want life on our conditions, not on God's conditions. Praying puts us at risk of getting involved in God's condition. Be slow to pray. Praying most often doesn't get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. And when we realize what is going on, it is often to late to go back. Be slow to pray. (Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: the Shape of Pastoral Integrity, p. 44)
And here's another little snippet from later in the same discussion:
One of the indignities to which pastors are routinely subjected is to be approached, as a group of people are gathering for a meeting or a meal, with the request, "Reverend, get things started for us with a little prayer, will ya?" It would be wonderful if we would counter by bellowing William McNamara's fantasized response: "I will not! There are no little prayers! Prayer enters the lion's den, brings us before the holy where it is uncertain whether we will come back alive or sane, for 'it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'" (Peterson, p. 46; citing William McNamara, O. C. D., The Human Adventure (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Image Books, 1976), p. 89).

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