I continue reading Eugene Peterson’s book, “Working the Angles” and I continue to find it really helpful. He writes about a pastor’s interaction with the Psalms (by the way, I of course not think this stuff only applies to pastors, I believe it applies to all those who profess to follow Christ).
He writes about how we need to be students of the prayer book of the Isreal and of Jesus: the Psalms. He writes,
“If we insist on being self-taught in prayer, our prayers, however eloquent, will be meagre. Inevitably they will be shaped on the one hand by whatever the congregational ‘market’ demands, and restricted by our own little faith on the other.”
also he writes,
“Where will we acquire a language that is adequate for these intensities? Where else but the Psalms? For men and women who are called to leadership in the community of faith, apprenticeship in the Psalms is not an option; it is a mandate. Most of the Church has agreed on this for most of its centuries.”
“Too much is at state here – the maturity of the word of God, the integrity of pastoral ministry, the health of worship – to permit pastors to pick and choose a curriculum of prayer as they are more or less inclined. We can as well permit a physician to concoct his medicines from herbs and weeds in his backyard as allow a pastor to learn prayer from his or her own subjectivities..for pastors, who are in a special place of responsibility to pray for others and to teach them to pray, it is a dereliction of duty to be ignorant of or negligent in them…”
More good and hard words from Eugene Peterson. Regarding this topic I would suggest Scot McKnight’s book “Praying with the Church.” I wrote a short review on it when I read it last year. I would also suggest…well… reading the Psalms!