I’ve been reading a book by Eugene Peterson in which he challenges pastors in their praying. And challenged I have been by what he’s written.
Here’s a statement in which Peterson makes the point that one of the things that limits our praying is that we are often more self-conscious than God-conscious. And this is often true of our praying whether we’re a pastor or not.
“We are far more self-conscious than God-conscious and so when we pray, what we are ordinarily conscious of is that we are getting in the first word with God. But our consciousness lies.” (1)
I’m often guilty of this in my praying, thinking I’m getting in a first word with God. I’m quick to tell God what I want, what I need, what’s troubling me. All the while my prayer is limited because I’ve not taken into account what God wants. Peterson is making the point that when we neglect the Word we handicap our praying.
I do this when I’m thinking I should be getting in the first word with God in prayer. Prayer is important after all. You hear me say it all the time. But God has already gotten in the first word and He has graciously done it through His Word.
I hope that in all the encouragement to pray that you don’t forget that God is a speaking God. He is speaking to us in His Word. Let’s be certain that we’re allowing God to speak to us, reading His Word, listening to Him speak and allowing what He says to us through His Word to shape our prayers. I know I need this as much as anyone else.
Yes, you can and should take your concerns to God in prayer, but don’t limit your praying because you don’t know what concerns God. Read His Word, quiet your heart and mind before His Word. Let it shape your wants and desires. Let His Word shape your thinking about your troubles. Then pray and as you pray rest. Rest in His Word. Rest in His promise.
God has gotten the first word. I hope we’re all listening and then praying.
(1) Eugene H. Peterson. Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Kindle Locations 486-487). Kindle Edition.