I am finishing my reading of The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. In the end, he wraps up his thoughts by helping us understand prayer all over again. It is the language of the Kingdom. It is THE way to follow the WAY.
In the time of Christ, Peterson focused on two particular ways thriving in the Jewish culture: opportunism and zealotry leading to violence. Jesus was steering his community away from both options. (It continues to amaze me I read these words written nearly two decades ago and yet they are spot on for today.)
Jesus steered the community away from opportunism and zealotry by teaching them to pray. And in prayer, turn to non-violence. People didn’t HAVE to turn to violence. There was another way.
Peterson picks a prayer of the Early Church as an example:
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:24-30)
Then he writes this:
This can stand as the signature prayer of the resurrection community, who were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, but without raising their arms in violence. They refused the violence so widespread in both world and church that leads people away from God down all kinds of blind alleys and dead ends on life-wasting detours — damning, bullying, rejecting, and killing the opposition.
Walking the way of Jesus is a lifetime journey. It’s not something that gets you maturity when you are young in age. The way of Jesus is a life time walk that grows as we age. I have spent a lifetime learning. I have also spent a good deal of time unlearning what I had learned incorrectly. And all of it happens in the way of prayer as the Spirit leads me in the way of Jesus.
I still hold to the way of Jesus. He is still the smartest man in the room, and the Beautiful One to behold. And I have found the longer I walk with him the sweeter the walk gets. Anxiety falls off bit by bit.
The way I consistently find in battling the crazy of our world and our times is the way of Jesus. The way I find that way is prayer. In this, I keep growing and walking.