God, Scripture, Prayer, and Souls

In his latest book, The Pastor, renowned author Eugene Peterson writes that early in ministry, “I wasn’t prepared for the low level of interest that the men and women in my congregation had in God and the scriptures, prayer and their souls. Not that they didn’t believe and value these things; they just weren’t very interested.” (p.104)

God, scriptures, prayer, and souls.

None of us would deny their importance. But they hardly form the center of our existence. We constantly embrace the inferior. My doctor insists on the healthful value of vegetables, fruit, milk, and vitamins, but my tastebuds seem to prefer a different dietary foundation—pizza (Little Caesars), tacos (Del Taco), burgers and fries (McDonalds)—even though such menu-items leave me heavier, less energetic, and in poorer health.

Do we embrace lives centered in Him, attentive to Him, and discerning of Him? Do we practice a rhythm of God-awareness, God-engagement, and God-yieldedness?

For many of us, quick spirituality seems as desirable as fast food. I’d like to order it and have it delivered before I get to the second window—please. I’d like it served hot and fast—thankyou very much—because time is precious and I have much to do. But eventually I discover that reheated spirituality is not nearly as heart-healthy as I hoped. In fact, it kills my taste for what is most real.

God, scriptures, prayer, and souls. “They just weren’t very interested,” writes Peterson.

Might the shallowness of the church—and the hollowness of our own lives—reflect our failure to embrace these spiritual pillars? Have we allowed the pursuit of our dreams to usurp our pursuit of God? Have we placed higher value on social media than Scripture? Have we replaced prayerfulness with busyness? Have we neglected our souls to satisfy our bodies?

God, scriptures, prayer, and souls. How interested are we?

Spiritual fast-food tastes like cardboard—and does about as much good for us. Are we ready to cook up the ancient recipe that requires a crockpot rather than a microwave? By the way, that’s the essence of Lent, which starts today. Forty days of deeper attentiveness. Forty days of sharper spiritual focus.

Because of Grace.

P.S. If you’re interested in a great tool for Lent, I’d recommend The Rhythm of Prayer: A Forty Day Experience by Mark Moore, published in 2006 by Wesleyan Publishing House.

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8 Responses to God, Scripture, Prayer, and Souls

  1. Tim Ross says:

    A few years back…I was one of those Christians that was not that interested. I was not in the Word daily, my prayer life was shallow, and my character showed it. I think many Christians are fooled that they are “good” people. We don’t murder, we don’t steal (except a pen from work), we don’t lie (well, no big lies), and we do some good things once in a while (when it’s convenient). But seeking God’s kingdom first, that takes a commitment that many are not ready to make. I pray that my commitment to God would be first in my life so that I do His will and inspire others. I have found how good God is and I want to share it with all I see. Thank you David for your spiritual guidance to point me to Christ.

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks for this post Dad, really excellent. What stands out to me is how incredibly simple it is. There’s no multiplication, division, radicals or exponents. Just simple addition and four things. I wonder if sometimes we actually lose track because its so simple. A complicated method of meditation may seem more likely to give success simply because it’s more complicated. I wonder if this is another perspective we need to carefully critique in ourselves.

    • David Timms says:

      Matt, I think you’re onto something. Perhaps we shy away from the simple because it leaves us without excuse. Complication and responsibility seem inversely proportionate–if it’s more complicated, I am less responsible; and vice versa. The Gospel is, indeed, uncomfortably simple!

  3. Peter de Ruyter says:

    I too thank you David for a wonderful post. The Christian life is not an easy path. There are so many things that distract us in our daily walk with God. I am currently reading several books by John MacArthur, but one in particular has very much deepened my relationship with Jesus Christ. His book, The Gospel According to Jesus, tackles the error of easy believism and what is genuine faith and also the matter of true repentance and the lack of showing obedience, commitment and turning from sin. God, Scriptures, Prayer and Souls tells me I must sharpen my focus and continue to be willing to put Him first above all things. Again, thank you for making it so interesting, but simple.

    • David Timms says:

      Peter, thanks for your depth of thought. You help me realize that a simple gospel is not necessarily an easy one; and an easy gospel may be no gospel at all. Yes, it calls for nothing more than faith–but nothing less than faithfulness in every way.

  4. Ron Brewster says:

    Another articulate post. I am currently on a personal prayer, focus and renewal retreat that I do each year. This post was a perfect reminder of how important these get-a-ways are. However, the every day connecting with God is like the Crockpot. If I wait until the annual retreat, that is more like ‘In and Out burger’. Love ‘In and Out’, but nothing beats a meal that has been simmering for 8-10 hours in a crockpot. All this talk of food, I need to go get something to eat. 🙂

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