Carson on Prayer

There are many great books out there that I have read parts of, or have heard people talk about a lot, but I’ve never read in their entirety. (I often think, “I’ll have time to read all these books in heaven!” But then I think, “In heaven I won’t need or want to read a book written by a fallible man; I’ll have all the knowledge I need to have of God.” But we’ll still be learning in heaven, right? We won’t be infinite in knowledge – but will there be human authored books that will help us to increase in knowledge? I don’t think so.)

One of the books that I need to read in its entirety, and I commend it to you, is D. A. Carson’s Call to Spiritual Reformation, A: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. In the first chapter Carson gives eight lessons in the school of prayer that he has learned from more mature Christians:

1. Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray.

2. Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift.

3. At various periods in your life, develop, if possible, a prayer-partner relationship.

4. Choose models, but choose them well.

5. Develop a system for your prayer lists.

6. Mingle praise, confession, and intercession; but when you intercede, try to tie as many requests as possible to Scripture.

7. If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers.

8. Pray until you pray.

If these pique your interest, then I encourage you to read the book. I’ll quote from Carson’s comments upon the last instruction, since it’s a bit mysterious: “This is Puritan advice…What they meant is that Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying. We are especially prone to such feelings when we pray for only a minutes, rushing to be done with a mere duty. To enter the spirit of prayer, we must stick to it for awhile. If we ‘pray until we pray,’ eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. Even in dark or agonized praying, we somehow know we are doing business with God. In short, we discover a little of what Jude means when he exhorts his readers to ‘pray in the Holy Spirit’ (Jude 20) – which presumably means it is treacherously possibly to pray not in the Spirit…In our Western world we urgently need this advice, for many of us in our praying are like nasty little boys who ring front door bells and run away before anyone answers” (35-37).



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