A few years ago, I was editing a small Christian magazine, and we had commissioned a series of articles from Randy Harris, who had become popular for his "standup theologian" style of teaching at Abilene Christian University.
He sent me his first article hand-written and by fax. Who hand-writes articles, and who uses fax machines anymore? Randy's handwriting was difficult to decode, and I was a little frustrated, but what I did not know then was that he wrote that piece in the middle of his 40-day retreat at Lebh Shomea house of prayer in the Texas desert. He had no computer, no Internet.
This 40-day prayer retreat changed the life of Randy Harris. It started when he asked himself, "What would happen if I gave God my full attention for 40 days?"
The fact that I did not get the context of Randy's hand-written piece illustrates an important truth: I can't fully understand someone's prayer journey until I pay attention to God as well.
Like the Israelites waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai or the disciples waiting for Jesus in prayer on the mountain, we expect that someone who has spent time with God, paying full attention, will come back with words of wisdom that will blow us away.
Randy doesn't claim God gave him any special revelation, but he did receive something profound during his 40 days in the wilderness. Randy found that God wanted to teach him the gospel all over again. This time he would learn it more with his heart than with his head.
Those 40 days also set Randy on a quest to learn to live out the teachings and mission of Christ.
Over the next decade, Randy spent time with practitioners of prayer and mission in Celtic and Ignatian retreat houses. He did a two-year program in the Shalem Institute, learning ...