1) If you’re interested in growing in prayer I would make a few suggestions.
I’m lying. First sentence of this post and I’m a liar. I would suggest only one thing.
Still lying, I would suggest 2.5 things.
I would first suggest that you begin by reading scripture, then I would ammend that (.5) by saying you should start with reading the Psalms, they were good enough for Jesus to pray through. Then I would tell you to practice by praying. If you were encouraged by the sermon you could use the scriptures I preached from to help you get started:
- Luke 11.1-12 and Matthew 6.5-18; these are the two instances where Jesus teaches what we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. The links are in further context.
- Psalm 24
- 1 Chronicles 29.10-20; this is the full prayer of David that I believe the common Doxology attached to The Lord’s Prayer is taken from. It’s a lovely prayer, we’d all be blessed to pray it.
2) The playlist I made for this sermon is a little more casual with the theme than I normally curate but it still is a great playlist. The tune “Every Star is a Burning Flame” by Andrew Peterson really influenced where I was going with some of the ideas. I may have even stolen a phrase from it. Other standout songs include:
- Who Is This by John Mark McMillian; it’s pretty faithful paraphrase of Psalm 24 and has a kicking guitar solo.
- Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John; captures the “more than meets the eye” sentiment I was aiming for.
- The Ocean by Matt Papa; this song was inspired by the Jonathan Edwards quote. I quoted Edwards so I would sound smarter than I am. I’m familiar with the quote because I’m familiar with the song.
3) The poem I read was “Every Riven Thing” by Christian Wiman from the book of the same name. You can buy the book here if you enjoy poetry I could not recommend it more – it’s a miracle of a book. Listen to the poet from his On Being interview read the poem and discuss writing it.
God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why
4) Here are some good books on prayer:
- Answering God by Eugene Peterson
- Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels
- Prayer by Tim Keller
- The Common Book of Prayer
5) Would it be a sermon review if I didn’t quote CS Lewis? This is the scene after all the Kings and Queens of Narnia walk through the stable doors in The Last Battle into the New Narnia and New Earth and there eat fruit from a tree they find. His description captures exactly what I was hoping to communicate when I was comparing the riches of God’s kingdom to the world as we perceive it:
What was the fruit like? Unfortunately no one can describe a taste. All I can say is that, compared with those fruits, the freshest grapefruit you’ve ever eaten was dull, and the juiciest orange was dry, and the most melting pear was hard and woody, and the sweetest wild strawberry was sour. And there were no seeds or stones, and no wasps. If you have once eaten that fruit, all the nicest things in this world would taste like medicines after it. But I can’t describe it. You can’t find out what it is like unless you can get to that Country and taste it for yourself.
6) Speaking of Narnia. When I was a kid I totally studied the maps in the front covers of each book and made up my own adventures in Narnia. Don’t judge me but I’m still disappointed I never actually walked through the wardobe. But, maybe it has something to do with my impulse to write. Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon in his excellent collection of essays Maps & Legends: Reading and Writing on the Borderlands writes about how maps influenced his becoming a writer in the titular essay:
…just because you have stopped believing in something you once were promised does not mean that the promise itself was a lie. Childhood, at its best, is a perpetual adventure, in the truest sense of that overtaxed word: a setting-forth into trackless lands that might have come into existence the instant before you first laid eyes on them. How fortunate I was to be handed, at such an early age, a map to steer by, however provisional, a map furthermore ornamented with a complex nomenclature of allusions drawn from the poems, novels, and stopies of mysterious men named Faulkner, Hemingway, Frost, Hawthorne, and Fitzgerald! Those names, that adventure, are still with me every time I sit down at the keyboard to sail off, clutching some dubious map or other, into terra incognita.
The whole book is worth reading if you’re a serious fan of genre-fiction. He’s makes great arguments for why comic books, detective novels, sci-fi, fantasy should be treated with respect. The titular essay, “Maps and Legends”, was a launching pad for this sermon.
7) I alluded to a second poem that is really quite great. You should read the whole thing aloud or listen to the recording at the following link. It’s a great poem, “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oilCrushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soilIs bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.And for all this, nature is never spent;There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;And though the last lights off the black West wentOh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —Because the Holy Ghost over the bentWorld broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
8) From my favorite! The Jesus Storybook Bible, a paraphrase of The Lord’s Prayer:
9) If you were still undecided on whether or not I’m a narcissisct, I quoted my own blog in the sermon:
Have you ever heard of Testa-mints? They’re Christian breath mints for when you’re suffering from a real bad case of halitosis or unbridled rage, and, anyways, Altoids will fork your tongue real quick. Also they come in assorted flavors! Next time you’re at the local Christian bookstore purchasing a Christian book with a Christian bookmark and, for good measure, a Christian CD these Christian mints should be available at the Christian register.
And now I’m linking back to that post hoping you’ll read it: Testa-Mint Theology at Duke University.
10) One more poem for the road because I’m a pretentious narcissist and this past Sunday was Palm Sunday and we didn’t give the day its due, “The Donkey” by GK Chesterton:
When fishes flew and forests walkedAnd figs grew upon thorn,Some moment when the moon was bloodThen surely I was born.With monstrous head and sickening cryAnd ears like errant wings,The devil’s walking parodyOn all four-footed things.The tattered outlaw of the earth,Of ancient crooked will;Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,I keep my secret still.Fools! For I also had my hour;One far fierce hour and sweet:There was a shout about my ears,And palms before my feet.