Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

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“These Are a Few of My Favorite Prayers”

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

It’s time to take a break from our journey through David Crump’s book on prayer. His reflections on the Lord’s Prayer leads me to think about the prayers in the Bible that I consider my favorites. Among them, I confess, is this very prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer has been and will always be one of my favorite prayers. I suppose it is meant to be so. Regardless, I have found that it shapes my thinking in more ways than I can imagine. Years ago, I sat down and tried to write in just a few short phrases what I felt my purpose was as a person and as a pastor. I labored over that for some time and emerged with what I thought was an accurate reflection of my heart, when my heart was at its best. As I looked at that statement, I saw that it reflected unmistakably the contours of the prayer Jesus taught us and which I had been taught to recite since childhood.

But there are other biblical prayers which have become favorites over the years. One that a fellow pastor recently shared with me comes from the life of Moses. Moses was at the time so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for God’s people that, at his whits end, he burst out with this honest little request (here shared using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase):

“I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people. If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.” (Numbers 11:14, 15 / The Message)

Most pastors I know resonate with that feeling now and then!

Jehoshophat was a king in Israel who, when informed of an approaching army of enemies, very honestly spoke the words that often reflect my own perspective on the unmanageable:

“O our God…we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The great horde for me may be a parenting conundrum or some other unsolvable puzzle. I rarely know what to do. I can only look to God in desperation.

And then, not quite a prayer, but a blessing which can be easily converted to prayerful use is this:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

I have often had occasions when I’ve not known anything else to pray for someone who is hurting and broken. In such occasions it has seemed right to pray this for them, to wish every component of God’s favor upon them, to ask that the “Lord, bless them and keep them….”

These, I say, are a few of my favorite prayers. What are yours?

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Prayer for Tractors and Other Things

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

One of the first petitionary prayers I recall praying was for a tractor. I don’t know why I wanted a tractor and I don’t know what I would have done with one had I gotten up the morning after the prayer and had found a brand new red Massey-Ferguson tractor in my front yard. I’m supposing that someone in my life had communicated the powerful possibilities of prayer that in asking we receive and with a child’s faith, I acted. To my dismay, I did not get, nor have I yet gotten, my tractor.

Since then, the things for which I ask are more sophisticated, though I’m not sure that is always a good thing. What I do want is that my prayers be shaped by the things that Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer says that my heart should long for in prayer.

If we are praying according to this guide, we will be praying for the regular provision of our needs (“…our daily bread…”). We will pray for reconciled relationships and peace (“…forgive us our debts…”). And we will pray that we will be sustained through every test of our discipleship that comes our way, even as we ask that we might be spared them (“…lead us not into temptation…”).

But what we long for in the end cannot help but be tempered by the weight of the first petitions of this prayer. It is right to petition God for all that we desire. If that is a tractor, then ask for a tractor. If that is for a husband, then pray for a husband. And if it is for a convenient parking place, then pray for that. And yet the more our hearts are trained to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, the essential direction of the first three petitions, the more content we will be to take what he gives on a daily basis, whether great or small. We will be more happy to remain tractor-less if God is glorified in it.

Crump looks at this prayer as something of a grid by which our own heart priorities are revealed. And I must confess that my heart’s desire to embrace Jesus’ passion for the kingdom and my actual practice of that are at times some distance apart. Prayer along the lines of the Lord’s Prayer cannot help but bring them nearer.

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Prayer When Things Are Not As They Should Be

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

Prayer is a mystery. How else can we explain the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.” How is that a prayer? Is that not like praying that water be wet or that a sphere be round? Is not the will of God something by nature and definition that is done whether we seek it or not? Some find they are able to answer these questions easily. I don’t. How do prayer and God’s sovereignty exist in the same universe? It is the question that troubles many who find their way to their knees. But to pray within this tension is what we are called to do, even as the Lord’s Prayer makes clear.

Crump makes the necessary point that the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer all are making somewhat the same point. To pray that God’s name be honored is to pray for his kingdom to be manifest in all the earth, which is to pray for his will to be done, and all of this on earth as it is in heaven. But does this imply that his will is not being done? Does it imply that we can, by our prayers, hasten the coming of his will and kingdom?

Those are complicated questions which find some de-tanglement when we understand that this prayer for God’s will was central to Jesus’ impassioned prayer in Gethsemane. To pray for his kingdom and will to come and be done is in many respects to pray that our hearts be submitted to him, that our desires be his desires, that our personal impulses be submitted to his greater vision.

And yet, I’m not completely satisfied by this. It does not completely give me rest to suggest that when I am praying, I am simply putting myself in a place where my heart and passions might be changed and molded. When I see brokenness and injustice and anguish among God’s people, I pray that HIS KINGDOM come. I am praying that he would bring more into the ‘already’ the ‘not yet’ realities that will dry those tears and heal those broken hearts. I pray that his will be done because in many respects is is NOT being done yet, no matter what we make of the mystery of divine providence. All is not as it should be, and so I pray that God would hasten the day when it is. And I am encouraged to pray that, and to pray it with vigor.

Whether Crump would embrace the above paragraph or not I can only guess. I sense that he would. We must avoid every sense that God’s responsiveness is only apparent. Those who suggest that “God ordains the means as well as the ends…” are, he says, giving a theological answer aimed at intellectual satisfaction at great cost to the biblical text. And Crump’s desire to always lean on the text even when our minds are left reeling is part of what I appreciate about his approach and his honesty.

And I appreciate his heart, as it is expressed in this summary of the first three Lord’s Prayer petitions:

“In these three requests, we acknowledge that even as we pray for miracles with a faith that moves mountains, we would gladly exchange the most astounding miracle for the smallest mundane moment, if that mundane will bring greater glory to our Father who is in heaven.” (page 131)

That is where I want my heart to be.

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Prayer to God as Father

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

It is too easy for us to treat prayer as a skill to be learned when it is better thought of as the fruit of a relationship that is nurtured. It is something the children of God do with their heavenly Father. That is what is at the very forefront of Jesus’ most formal teaching on prayer which we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.

My (albeit simplistic) take on this prayer has always been that Jesus here, in modeling prayer for his disciples, also models for them the longing of the righteous heart. If these are the things for which we ought to pray, then these are the things fundamentally our hearts should be trained to long for.

First and foremost, this prayer trains our hearts to approach God as our father and our king. The image of God as father is for some very comforting and for others problematic. Jesus introduces the term here not to convey a simple paternal sensitivity (and Crump does a good job of disavowing us of any notion that Jesus encourages us to call God ‘Daddy’) but to present the Father in heaven as both creator and redeemer, as Lord and as king. He stands as the one who loves and the one who commands. We come before him with awe even as we come boldly. As Jesus teaches us to pray “Our Father” he invites us to enter into a relationship with God not analogous with our own troubled father-child relationships, but analogous rather of the intimacy between Jesus and His Father. He invites us to enter into prayer as he experienced prayer.

We are to approach God not as we might approach our own fathers, which is quite hard for some of us, but we are to approach him as brothers and sisters of Christ. We are to approach God as Jesus approached God, as his father, as the one who loves him, and as one he loves, whose will he respects and keeps. We are to step away for a time from our own flawed and broken imagery of a father and come to God upon a foundation built of the revelation of Jesus’ relationship to the father. This can be freeing.

Often those who are good at something are not the best teachers. They can only tell us how they do something and cannot lead us through the painful steps of getting to where they are. But we can learn a lot by watching and listening to them. There is a man I know whose prayers lack sophistication and style. But I love to hear him pray and am comforted to hear him pray for me. That is because when he prays, he is clearly talking as a child to his father, and that seems to capture better than anything, the essence of prayer.

He learned that by listening to Jesus. I want to do the same.

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Prayer: the Price of a Miracle

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

Years ago, I heard a man speak whose church had grown phenomenally. He attributed this growth to his commitment to spending hours daily in prayer, a commitment in which his church had joined him. A correlation was drawn between the number and persistence of people praying and the success of the church’s ministry. I was moved by the man’s faithfulness. I was challenged by his model. But I was never able to duplicate his devotion or his success. I am left to wonder: if I’d prayed one more day or had one more person join me, would we have tipped the scale in our favor?

What, that is, is the price of a miracle? Or is that even a proper question?

Some have read Jesus’ parables in the gospel of Luke (chapters 11 and 18) to suggest that prayer not only requires a special quantity of faith but as well particular investments of time, repetition, and emotional fervor. And such quantification seems to put a price tag on the miracles we seek. Is it really true that what God will not do if only ten are praying he will do if there are eleven or twenty? To have many praying, and praying long and hard is a good thing. But the line between doing what is good and attempting to manipulate God can be invisible to us if we are not careful. Crump unpacks these parables and in so doing helps us see our way beyond this creeping mechanistic view of prayer.

The point of the parables of the friend to who seeks bread from his neighbor at midnight (Luke 11) and the widow before the judge (Luke 18) is not that we can with our persistence irritate God into action. Rather, the point is that we should come to God at any time and with whatever need without shame and without hesitation.

We are to let nothing prevent our bringing our petitions to God. We will be persistent and we will pray without ceasing because we care about the matter at hand. But we do so not to pay a certain ‘price’ for a miracle. Our Father is always and ever willing to hear and to give what we most need.

The encouragement of these passages is to pray. We are encouraged to pray not so as to up the ante against God so that he must respond, but to pray knowing that he loves to give good gifts to his children, even when all we can see is darkness. Faithfulness in prayer is what is encouraged, and faithfulness is always more precious than a mechanistic persistence. The child who asks and asks and asks her father for a snake will not get it. But the child still asks, and the child will get what she most needs. But she asks not to up the pressure on one who will not give, but she asks simply because he is her father.

“The point is this: will I continue to bring my life before God in prayer when all tangible, empirical—and even all personal, experiential—evidence demands that I abandon prayer as worthless?” (page 88)

I want my answer to be, “Yes.”

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Prayer: When Jesus Lies (?)

[This is a post in our ongoing series looking at the themes raised by David Crump in his book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. We began this series here.]

When do we eventually entertain the idea that Jesus has lied to us? Few would confess to having this thought, but many face it.

We read in the Bible that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:23) And so we pray, with earnestness and fervor and persistence and faith. And the “mountain” remains.

When we ask, “Why?” some will tell us that we don’t have enough faith. Others will tell us that we’ve not prayed long enough. Still others will urge us to gather a team to pray. But at some point when our guard is down the thought will flit across our minds, “What if it is in fact not true?”

We may not exactly accuse Jesus of lying, but we will judge the text to not be true, which effects the same thing. And left unchecked, the thought will find a place to roost, and grow, and soon we will stop praying. Or worse.

But the problem is this: what other conclusions can we draw? Jesus says one thing and our experience reveals another. The fault is either in us not praying right or in the promise being faulty. What is it?

Gently, Crump points us in a third direction – that we have misunderstood the nature of the promise. He takes us back to the texts in which the apparent links between faith and prayer and the work of God are drawn and helps us see them in fresh ways, hopefully in the way that Jesus meant them to be understood.

Crump walks us through the texts to see if it is in fact possible for Christians to cause mountains to ‘do backflips’ into the Mediterranean as easily as Jesus caused the fig tree to wither. Crump helps us to see that Jesus’ point was not that a physical mountain would move, but that the personal God would act. The common believer has access through prayer to the full power of God. There are no limits.

“Anyone who places arbitrary, naturalistic limits on what a disciple can reasonably expect of God in this world should stop to consider whether that person’s God is the same deity that Jesus turned to when he said to the fig tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ (Mark 11:14).” (page 33)

The point is that we ought to expect that our prayers do connect us to all the power of God, no matter how weak our faith. But that does not seem to be helpful. Why do the mountains not move when I tell them to? The answer is, “God.” Regardless of what we ask, it is his decision to act in all the wisdom that is his.

No where in the Bible does ‘greater faith’ receive greater answers and ‘lesser faith’ lesser. Scripture invites every believer, no matter how weak his faith, to believe in the absolute power of God. There is no guarantee “expressed or implied”. There is a future sense in the promises of the Bible and, as hard as it is to accept, sometimes the answers to our prayers await the coming of the kingdom in its fulness.

The challenge here is to avoid the cynicism that says God cannot or will not ever bring the impact of that kingdom to bear upon the present. We are encouraged to ask things of God, believing that he, as God, can do what we ask. But God is not bound by what we ask. Greater faith or (as we will see) greater persistence does not obligate God.

“The Gospel writers carefully insist that faith itself is not the cause of miracles. God is.” (page 45)

That is the point we need to hear. Faith does not change things, and prayer does not change things, but God does. Prayer is taking what little faith we have and what little we know of prayer and asking the God who can move mountains to act. Even when we cannot receive what we ask, as Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane demonstrates, we are to pray. But we pray believing that he can if he chooses do all that we might desire. He who is truthful in all else that he says is truthful here as well.

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Prayer and Its Misconceptions

Prayer is life for the Christian. It is the spontaneous and necessary cry to God arising from the struggles and hopes and failures and dreams of living in a broken world. Prayer is something we cannot imagine being without. At the same time, prayer is a mystery. It is a discipline and it is hard.

And for most of us prayer is a weakness which becomes, in the end, a burden.

KnockingBut is prayer a weakness because it is hard and unnatural for us, or do we find ourselves weak in it because of a misconception of what it is to be? If one trains to be a painter using a faulty and impossible standard, even though he may be good he will judge himself to be weak because he is using erroneous evaluative criteria. Perhaps we are overly critical of our practice of prayer because we are building our critique upon a false model of prayer.

Any book that would seek to correct our false ideas of prayer could, in fact, free us to pray. Such is, in my opinion, the value of David Crump’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door. It’s not well known, but surely any book whose title riffs on a Bob Dylan song is deserving of at least a glance.

A glance was all I needed. The book’s subtitle promises that this is “A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer”. David Crump, a professor of religion and theology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sets out to ‘explain’ prayer as it is presented in the New Testament, which means rescuing prayer from the misconceptions of a well-meant but often mistaken evangelical and fundamentalist heritage. Crump treats that heritage with respect, but his commitment is to Scripture, and it is in opening the Bible to careful attention that he excels and is most helpful.

In reading (and then re-reading – VERY rare for me) I found his explanations of the biblical text careful and thorough and his conclusions convincing. And this book did what few other books on prayer have been able to do. It made me want to pray. In this case, it made me want to pray not because of the effect prayer has had upon some great saint, and not because of some great promise made about prayer. It made me want to pray because I was able to better see it for what it is, and God for whom he is.

I want to spend the summer walking through this book giving readers of this blog a glimpse into Crump’s arguments and conclusions. I want us all to think more clearly about prayer. As well, I want this book to be more widely known. The content is good, the writing accessible (though, at times, more ‘scholarly’ in feel than some may want), and the exegetical model is exemplary. As with any book, I cannot agree with everything in it. But what is here has shaken my world in a good way and is inviting me to change the way I look at and practice prayer as little else has done. Crump’s goal and mine, as I attempt to summarize his work in these posts, are the same:

“May this study so transform both the author and the reader that we will learn to ‘always pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1)” (page 19)

Yes. May it be so.

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On Meditation

Late in high school I began to read the Bible with a pencil/pen and paper in hand. I don’t know who suggested I do this, or if rather the idea just spontaneously combusted in my still unformed brain. Whatever prompted it, it stuck.

Some time later it occurred to me that there was more value in reading the Bible slowly than in reading it fast. Again, I’m not sure whether this was a conclusion independently drawn or drawn from another’s wise words. Nevertheless, it too stuck.

Both ideas have been a gift.

My current practice is to each morning read a small portion of Scripture, perhaps a chapter, perhaps a portion of a chapter. I opt for bite-sized chunks that I can savor, think about, reflect upon, and remember. The thoughts stimulated by these reflections get recorded in the journal open in front of me and often morph into words of prayer.

I’ve done the ‘read through the Bible in a year’ thing and found it too easy to not pay attention to what I’m reading. I’ve decided to be the tortoise, casually reading through the bible once every four to five years, meditating upon it along the way. Hares consume at a much more rapid pace, but this serves me well.

And it has served others well. Tim Keller suggests a reason why. In his book Prayer (in which I was largely disappointed, but not completely), he expresses a concern that we too easily separate our reading of Scripture from our prayer life. He challenges Christians to engage in the reflective and interactive approach to Scripture known as meditation. As we meditate on the text God speaks to us, and, subsequently, we pray moved by what we ourselves have heard. It is, as Keller rightly notes, a conversation. Sometimes, Keller reminds us in chapter 10 of that book, we are content to grasp what a passage says and don’t take time to think about what the passage says ‘to me’. And that leaves us impoverished.

Recently in preparing a sermon I was confronted with the challenging words of Jesus, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) It would be easy to treat that text in the abstract and to simply accept that this is something Jesus said and be content to assume we know what it means. Far more value comes from chewing on such a text and asking questions that impinge upon one’s own heart attitude toward possessions. Do I care more for my things than I do for God? If I lost my things would I still trust God? Which is the greater source of my happiness: that I have things or that I belong to God? And so forth.

These are the questions that arise when one is pressing a text hard into his or her own psyche. These are the questions of meditation. Asking such questions may not generate satisfactory answers, but they will produce prayer. As we think about a text we hear God’s voice in it, and our impulse will be to speak back, if even to say, “God, I don’t like what this is saying.” Or, “God, my heart is more committed to things than to you. Will you fix that in me?”

It is true that we cannot see God, and, as someone recently told me, it feels artificial to attempt to speak, to pray, to someone we can’t see. I get that. But meditation helps us hear God so that, though I don’t see him, I hear him. And the one I hear, to him I can speak in reply.

Grab a bible, a pencil, and a composition book. Set aside some time during the week. Once. Thrice. Daily. Read slowly, listen, ask questions, respond, and pray.

And you can forget who made the suggestion.

How to Experience Awe and Intimacy with God

Tim Keller, the now well-known pastor of NYC’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church has had a significant impact in my circles and on me personally. He’s one of the finest preachers I’ve ever heard, uniquely gifted to speak with wisdom and clarity to a confused and skeptical age. His teaching has straightened a great deal of my own confusion. I have been thankful for just about everything Tim Keller does and has done until now. His book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God seems to be one in which he loses sight of both his audience and of the type of book he wanted to write.Keller Prayer

Instead of writing a book on prayer, he has written a manual on how to use prayer to have an experience of God. The subtitle has swallowed the title.

Keller says many good things. Prayer, he reminds us, is not about getting stuff. It’s much bigger than that. And he reminds us that emotions are to play a role in our Christianity as much as our brain. Prayer is more than a routine and a duty and a tool, and it is important that we are reminded of that.

But I get the odd feeling that prayer remains a tool, in this case a tool by which we get an experience of God.

I appreciate Keller’s insistence that we who are created for an eternity of the ‘full enjoying of God’ are in fact to experience some level of awe and intimacy. Communion with God and an experience of his nearness and fatherly affection are great gifts. But that is a different book, it seems to me, than one on prayer. I think that is the book he wanted to write.

There is a wealth of wisdom deposited here, but it feels like a research paper. The wisdom revealed is wisdom wedged into a fairly sterile report on the teaching of the saints of the reformed church. We hear very little of Keller’s passion and very little of any struggle he’s had in prayer. I come away knowing what Calvin, Luther, Augustine, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and CS Lewis taught about prayer, and more pointedly, about experience with God and, to be honest, to be in the company of such men can often discourage we mere mortals.

And this is where I think he loses sight of his audience. I consider myself a fairly mature Christian and I believe myself to be fairly disciplined in my Christian walk. And yet I think I need to turn in my Christian Maturity Card whenever someone tells me to read Luther’s letter to his barber which is called ‘A Simple Way to Pray‘. His barber may have found it simple, but I find nothing simple about it at all. I find it daunting. I’m greatly moved by Calvin’s chapters on prayer, and I’ve read and been touched by John Owen’s “Meditations on the Glory of Christ” and “Communion with God“. But I can’t be these men any more than members of my congregation can be me.

To set them as the standard for intimacy with God is to set a standard that none of us can reach, and we will instead, more likely than not, walk away or give up or despair.

Give up

I have experienced awe and intimacy with God, but I can’t show another how to ‘do’ that. I’ve wept in services of worship when my life situation and the word preached and the songs sung all flowed together to remind me of my Father’s love. I’ve been moved to deep humility holding the communion cup in my sinful hands knowing how undeserving of such grace I am. At times I’ve almost danced! I’ve had those experiences, but they come by putting myself where God works and waiting for him. I can’t teach another how to have such an experience.

Keller shares a tender story about a father and a son. The son knows he has a father when he is walking with his father. But he knows that reality with far greater warmth and passion and depth when the father scoops the child up in his arms and holds him tight. Keller’s point is that it is this latter experience of God that we should long for.

I agree! But it is a mistake to think that by doing prayer and meditation as he outlines it here will guarantee this. As I think about that image, what I learn is that it is good to be near to the Father. It is good to walk in his presence. It is good to be where he works. But it is his sovereign choice to grab us and hug us. If I try to implement a strategy whose goal is experience, I’ll meet frustration.

You will not have my experience of God, and I will not share yours. You should not aspire to the experience of Augustine, Calvin, or Keller. We can simply walk with God, even through the wilderness. If he chooses to reach down and hug us, we are grateful. But if we know that he has lived, died, and been raised for us, that may need to be enough.

How Good and Pleasant It Is

Last night I and several other ministers from the Oviedo area met in the chapel of Reformed Theological Seminary for a time of prayer. For an hour we prayed for unity and revival among the churches, for our civic leaders local and beyond, for the cities we inhabit and care for, and for the particular issues of justice and racial tension sparked by the beginning of the trial of George Zimmerman, charged in the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.

We prayed not to make any kind of social statement and we prayed not to create a public relations event. We prayed because we wanted to pray. We prayed because we have become friends who share a common concern for the issues that this trial in particular highlights. We prayed because we are encouraged to see God work among us despite our differences.

Gathered in that room were men and women who bear clear external differences. Some of us were white. Some of us were black. Most of us were men. One was a woman. Press in the right places and you will find some clear internal differences among us as well – theologically, politically, culturally.

But those differences did not matter, and I found the time, for whatever other value it might bear, to be a wonderfully encouraging time. Somehow praying with others clearly different than I who had no other motivation for meeting than to pray made me believe in prayer more than I might on other occasions. I don’t know if that is theologically defensible or not. Jesus tells us that by the love we have for one another people will know that we are his disciples. Is it possible that by the unity we seek with others, despite our differences, that we ourselves will better know Him as God?

What was critical, I think, to the value of our prayer time last night was that prayer arose out of genuine relationships. These others were people whom I’ve come to know and to love over the past three years. I know them by name. And so though a crisis situation brings us to our knees together, we gather together not as colleagues, but as friends, and more than friends, as fellow pilgrims. Perhaps such a gathering suggests greater power because it reveals to us what heaven will be like.

It is in such unity that “the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:3)

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