“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”- Psalm 130:3-4
In Chapter 7 (“Rules for Prayer”) of Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Timothy Keller discusses four rules of prayer in John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. The first rule is presented today.
1. The principle of reverence. Another name for this rule is “the fear of God”. Calvin asserted that Christians need to have a dire sense of the seriousness and magnitude of prayer. Prayer is a personal audience with Almighty God. When we come to prayer awed by God’s majesty, earthly cares and affections no longer hold us in bondage.
Pastor Keller notes that the “fear of God” is properly understood as joyful admiration with a fearful aspect to it. Because we are in awe of God, we don’t want to mess up. The author elaborates:
“We could say that fear of punishment is a self-absorbed kind of fear. It happens to people wrapped up in themselves. Those who believe the gospel- who believe they are the recipients of undeserved but unshakeable grace- grow in a paradoxically loving, yet joyful fear. Because of unutterable love and joy in God, we tremble with the privilege of being in his presence and with an intense longing to honor him when we are there.”
Calvin viewed this sense of awe as a crucial part of prayer. Prayer both requires awe and produces it.
Today’s question: How have you experienced “unutterable love and joy in God” during your desert, transitional journey? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Spiritual humility”