Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Peterson, 1987. Chapter 2, "Praying by the Book"

Chapter 2, “Praying by the Book” (Loc. 421)

Prayer plunges us into vivid communication with the living God. It also sets us apart from and sometimes into opposition with our community. So why are our prayers weak? Prayer “has been uprooted from the soil of the word of God” (Loc. 433). We realize that “prayer is never the first word; it is always the second word. God has the first word. Prayer is answering speech; it is not primarily ‘address’ but ‘response’ (Loc. 446). Therefore, when we begin an event with prayer, we need to confess its character as an answer to God’s Word.

Where do we learn to pray, to answer God? We go to the Psalms. Through all history they have been the prayer book for God’s people. Peterson discusses the division of Psalms into five books with divisions before Psalm 42, 73, 90, and 107. In location 534 Peterson suggests the books have a relationship to the Pentateuch, each section answering the themes of one book. However, when we look for the specific themes we are disappointed. God’s communication with us is complex, as are the many types of answers we find in the Psalms.

Peterson develops an idea that the Torah walks us from birth to maturity and that during each stage we respond through the prayers of the Psalter. When we are thus equipped we are ready with prayers empowered by God.

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