I continue to meander through Eugene Peterson’s biography, A Burning in My Bones. (I think he would have meandered, so I’m trying not to hurry.)
When Eugene was growing up in Montana, he was part of an Assemblies of God church, his mother was a Pentecostal preacher, and that left Eugene on the “fringes” of town life. While it frustrated him, it also drew him. The summer Eugene was 15, their family housed a Pentecostal teacher named John Wright Follette. Peterson would call him a Pentecostal mystic.
Frustrated with his own inner life, Eugene decided to ask Follette how he prayed. The teacher looked at Peterson and said, “I haven’t prayed in forty years!”
Peterson was shocked, of course, but then pondered that encounter over the decades:
You see, anything he had told me I would have imitated. I would have done what he said he did and thought that’s what prayer is. He risked something to teach me what prayer was, and I’m glad he did. Prayer wasn’t something he did — it was something he was. He lived a life of prayer.
We can imitate a pattern… or we can walk in prayer.