Reading About Prayer is Tough, Too!

For a variety of reasons, it's been a little over a week since I have been able to read any more of DA Carson's book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. But this morning I was able to work through chapter 2: The Framework of Prayer, based on 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12.

In the opening part of this chapter, Carson talks about being thankful. Two paragraphs are worth quoting:

For what do we commonly give thanks? We say grace at meals, thanking God for our food; we give thanks when we receive material blessings - when the mortgage we've applied for comes through, or when we first turn on the ignition in a car we've just purchased. We may sigh a prayer of sweaty thanks after a near miss on the highway; we may utter a prayer of sincere and fervent thanks when we recover from a serious illness. We may actually offer brief thanksgiving when we hear that someone we know has recently become converted. But by and large, our thanksgiving seems to be tied rather tightly to our material well-being and comfort. The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we most highly value. (page 41)


For what have we thanked God recently? Have we gone over a list of members at our local church, say, or over a list of Christian workers, and quietly thanked God for signs of grace in their lives? Do we make it a matter of praise to God when we observe evidence in one another of growing conformity to Christ, exemplified in trust, reliability, love, and genuine spiritual stamina? (page 44)

The first paragraph - 'nuff said. But let me share a comment about the second.

I have been praying for the health and well-being of our church, and for the church to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. I have been praying that the church would deepen, but also grow numerically. Praying about those things is an open admission that change is needed. And there is nothing wrong with that! Change should be taking place until we get to Heaven.

What struck me about what Carson says in this second paragraph that I've quoted is that as I have been praying through our church directory, I find myself having a lot to thank God for. There are a lot of people who have been good examples, busy in work for the Gospel, faithful, etc. Thanksgiving, then, balances my intercession for the church. While I earnestly want to see God at work in the lives of people, thanksgiving reminds me that He is in fact already at work. While growth is needed, growth is already taking place. While people need to mature, maturity is already evident in many people.

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I'm taking a one-week hiatus from Romans this Sunday. In preaching the early part of Romans 7, dealing with our relationship to the Law, it occurred to me that it might be of help to our people if I spoke about the broader issue of how Christians relate to the Old Testament. This might seem more ideally suited for a classroom, but preaching is teaching. So that's what I'll be doing this Sunday.