Countering spiritual self-sufficiency

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By Dave Henning / January 18, 2015

“For although they know God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.”- Romans 1:21

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 12 of Prayer by noting that ultimately thanksgiving is a subcategory of praise.  However, Pastor Keller states that if we’re going to make headway in the work of praise and thanksgiving, we must know what we’re up against.

Supplication, intercession, confession, and repentance all are driven by external circumstances and our sense of helplessness.  It would seem to follow, then, that good things in our lives would produce thanksgiving and praise. But this is not the case.  Cosmic ingratitude, the author emphasizes, is living in the illusion that we can have spiritual self-sufficiency.

Pastor Keller suggests three ways to develop better habits of mind, to acknowledge the magnitude and scope of what we owe God:

1.  Make very pleasure into adoration.  C. S. Lewis states this means more than giving thanks: “Gratitude exclaims . . . ‘How good of God to give me this.’  Adoration says ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations (exhibiting sparkling virtuosity) are like this.’ ”

2.  Cultivate maturity in prayer.  Follow a general structure for prayer that includes addressing God, a truth about God’s nature, the petition, what will result if the petition is granted, and closing in Jesus’ name.

3.  Develop a method for prayer.  Just as Luther proposed turning the Lord’s Prayer into our prayer, Matthew Henry suggested turning the whole Bible into our prayer.  His book, A Method for Prayer, is an encyclopedic digest of prayers found in the Bible.

Today’s question: During your desert, transition time, how have you fortified yourself against spiritual self-sufficiency?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation, “Awaken my soul”

 

About the author

    Dave Henning


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