Home > Brian's Blogs, Prayer > Why Pray? part 4

Why Pray? part 4

In addition to prayer being an ongoing conversation with God, Eugene Peterson provides another important element to prayer: prayer as a tool for being and becoming.

Eugene Peterson believes that the human is “the tool-making creature.”  It is through tools that we engage the world.  He says, “Every distinctive human behavior requires tools: farming, loving, cooking, learning, building, believing.  Some tools are made of wood, some of metal, some of words.”  And each of these tools is absolutely necessary.  To this list of required and necessary tools, Peterson adds prayer.

Prayer is a tool.  Prayer is a tool that is made of, mostly, words.  But there is something unique about prayer as a tool: “Prayers are tools, but with this clarification: prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming…At the center of the whole enterprise of being human, prayers are the primary technology.  Prayers are tools that God uses to work his will in our bodies and souls.  Prayers are tools that we use to collaborate in his work with us.”

In saying this Peterson (a Presbyterian pastor) sounds similar to Calvin: “It is, therefore, by the benefit of prayer that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father…Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers…Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is…” (III.xx.2).  In other words, we receive the promises of God through prayer.  God promises to change us and conform us to the image of Christ.  God promises to help us become.  This “becoming” takes place through prayer.

The purpose of Peterson’s book, Answering God, is to explain his belief that “The Psalms are the best tools available for working the faith.”  Prayer is a tool and the Psalms are the toolbox.  But more on that later…

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