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Theology Thursday: Prayer Wrap Up

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Hey, Hey, It's Theology Thursday! I have plans for the fall as to what topic I'll be digging into, but today is wrap up day:

This summer I explored the topic of prayer. Here are my top takeaways:

-The two books I enjoyed the most on the topic were one I discussed in full here: When God is Silent and another one that kind of surprised me, to be honest. It's a book called Praying With Paul by D.A. Carson. I found this book to be so encouraging, so well-written (at times, he made me laugh out loud), so challenging to my sometimes-lazy approach to my approach to God.

Carson's goal is "to think through some of Paul's prayers, so that we may align our prayer habits with his." Because Paul is NT and after the cross (always good to ask yourself that question when reading the Scriptures - is this before the cross or after?), Paul's prayers are mainly focused on the spiritual plane, not physical. In other words, rarely does he make intercession for the people's health (think about your most recent prayer group many requests were for physical rather than spiritual growth and health?). Paul often prays for them to understand the power of the resurrection and how that should effect their spiritual lives (great endurance and patience). "Those are not virtues that are popular in our age. We extol champagne: lots of fizz and a pretty good high, but having no nutritional value for the long haul... If we have been transferred out of the dominion of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son beloved by God, our only appropriate response is joyful gratitude." Carson has more of a professor tone in his book and it is a challenging book to read - not challenging in understanding, but rather challenging in the oof you'll feel when presented with his explanations based on the truths of Paul's words. Here's an example: "Here then is a practical test of whether the excellence I pursue is really for the glory and praise of God or for my own self-image. If the things I value are taken away, is my joy in the Lord undiminished? Or am I so tied to my dreams that the destruction of my dreams means I am destroyed as well?" Right? oof!

-Have I learned anything about prayer? Yes. And no. While I didn't change my theology on prayer, I was challenged to take it more... seriously. Disciplined. I'm good at that whole "pray when you're driving, pray throughout your day" approach, but not great at the focused, disciplined approach. When I understand more of the truth of who He is, I find conviction, resolve and can see the Holy Spirit's work in my life to comfort and guide me on a daily basis. I can feel when I'm drifting away and getting wrapped up in my own twisted thoughts, so being more disciplined in refocusing is a good thing. In a practical way, I've begun jotting down prayer requests and keeping that list near me at my desk. I had a week of low-energy, mixed feelings, and found it so easy (remember, I'm an introverted little soul) to retreat into my head, where things were not great. Seeing my list of prayer requests and people I'm praying for on my desk today reminded me to pray, bring my requests to Him, recenter and refocus on who HE is. This helped me already and reminded me that it's not all about me (shocking) and renewed my spirit. If you want to pray for me, you can add that to your list.


Thanks for joining me for Theology Thursday. This summer's theology posts were on the subject of prayer as I continue to want to learn, study and think about prayer!

Past posts on prayer here


Books on Prayer I Recommend:

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

[Short review: I am a fan of Keller's writing, but this book felt a little more academic to me in that much of it was reviewing other theologian's writings on prayer. Calvin and Owen are mentioned often, which: meh (that's super theological, right? meh.) The parts I enjoyed and where I benefited most -and why I'd still recommend it - were when Keller himself gave insight into what prayer meant to him and his faith (which he does do, just not throughout the entire book).

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey

[Short review: Well-written. Felt more personal than Keller's book. Intriguing questions and answers - one of Yancey's strengths is his ability to be honest about questions, but also to pursue finding answers. I've had an affinity to Yancey since I attended a few Sunday School class sessions as a college student where he was teaching material later included in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew. There's something about sitting in cold metal folding chairs in a basement of a church with coffee and donuts, learning from a wise teacher that never leaves your soul.]

Praying with Paul by D A Carson

[Intriguing. Interesting. Bases what he says about prayer mainly on Paul's prayers. I've had some a-ha, "let me read this out loud to you" moments. ]

When God is Silent: Letting the Bible Teach You to Pray by John Koessler

[Reviewed HERE. His podcast is great, listen here: A Stranger in the House of God]

My Spotify Playlist of worship music that's not the same ol', same ol': Non-Pablum Songs About God

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