Last year at the National Pastors Convention, Dallas Willard spoke at an early morning Bible study gathering. Unlike the main sessions the Bible study had no music, no flashing lights, no massive screen. There was nothing remotely worshipful or stimulating about the physical setting. Still, I recall feeling most blessed and caught up into something divine during that simple lesson by Dr. Willard.
Yesterday morning I had a similar experience. For the second year I have been blessed by a soft-spoken, gray haired sage. This morning it was Eugene Peterson. In the same bland ballroom Peterson opened the Bible to share his reflections on prayer. There was nothing spectacular about his presentation, but it carried the gravity of a godly life.
Peterson spoke about the prayer he begins every day with as he walks the quarter mile from his front door to retrieve his newspaper. Living amid the natural beauty of Montana, Peterson greets the squirrels and the deer as he recites the words of Zachariah in Luke 1:68-79.
The first eight verses of this prayer focus most heavily on what God does, he said. There are ten verbs that speak of God's actions, and there is only one verb to describe ours, "serve." Peterson said this helps clarify our identity - God does ten things and we do one.
In verses 76-77, Zechariah speaks of his newborn son, John:
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.
Most interesting is that while reciting these verses Peterson inserts his own name for "child." He reminds himself that our calling as pastors is to be a prophet - one who speaks God's word into our world ...