Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

30 May 2011

Don Carson on Prayer # 1

I've just started reading A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and his Prayers by Don Carson.  Well, I started it last year but November and December got in the way!  So I am starting again, this time with a view to finishing it.

Here are the opening two paragraphs from the preface.

I doubt if there is any Christian who has not sometimes found it difficult to pray.  In itself this is neither surprising nor depressing: it is not surprising, because we are still pilgrims with many lessons to learn; it is not depressing, because struggling with such matters is part of the way we learn.

What is both surprising and depressing is the sheer prayerlessness that characterises so much of the Western church.  It's suprising, because it is out of step with the Bible that portrays what Christian living should be; it is depressing, because it frequently coexists with abounding Christian activity that somehow seems hollow, frivolous, and superficial. 

Ouch!  Important to know however that Don Carson hasn't written this book to send us to the time out corner with regards to our prayer life.  He's written it to encourage his readers, to invigorate their prayer life.

More to follow.


MichaelB said...

If Carson notes that prayerlessness is characteristic of the Western church, does he go on to explore the traditions of prayer in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches?

(Serious question - otherwise I don't know why he'd qualify with "Western".)

Meredith said...

Hi MB. Thanks for popping in.
I expect it's just his observation of what he sees in his own tradition and he seems greatly saddened by it too. Maybe he qualifies it because he doesn't want to cast aspersions at the other traditions. I'm only up to chapter three but I don't imagine he takes this any further.

MichaelB said...

Frankly, I'd be surprised if it were taken further too.

I stumbled over the Orthodox churches twelve or so years ago. It was as if the light were turned over the other half of the world and the map suddenly filled in. The Church is much bigger and the number of voices speaking and praying much larger than I had thought.