prayerkreeft1I began reading this little volume several years ago, got distracted, and recently picked it back up again because I had come to have some struggles in praying…as if I never struggled praying.

What I found upon returning to this book was a helpful series of devotional chapters from which I benefited well. It reminds me both of the inspiration of Brother Lawrence and the devotional and instructive by O. Hallesby. Kreeft’s instructions here are not really meant as a step-by-step or how-to for praying. From the chapter, Necessity, he writes not only that you must read meditatively but that, “you must actually do it, not just read about doing it, think about doing it, understand how to do it, plan to do it, or imagine yourself doing it.” So from it’s beginning there is a clear sense that one must just begin to begin to pray.
While not promoting methods, Kreeft introduces aspects in praying such as stopping, looking, and listening, and he offers possible models of prayer such as the acronym RAPT – Repentance, adoration, petition, and thanksgiving…
There are eighteen short chapters covering some subjects within prayer such as methods, thoughts, faith, distractions, sins, simplicity, and perseverance. Kreeft admits in his introduction of drawing from Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God, and this is easily sensed throughout the volume’s pages. But he quotes from other saints as well with well-appointed thought. While Kreeft is Catholic and there are some doctrines put forward such as transubstantiation, purgatory and the Immaculate Conception, these things are not merely inserted, but rather form a flow of thought from the author’s attempt to explain a sub-thought in the subject under discussion.
While he writes on prayer he discusses distractions and obstacle to prayer and the issue of answers to prayers as well. He writes both with simplicity and intelligence appealing to both one’s heart and mind. My favorite chapter has to be the one entitled, “Jesus”. In it Kreeft writes on the matter of what it means to invoke and pray in Jesus’ name. Writing of what it is not he says, “its purpose is not to transform our consciousness and make us mystics, or to bring inner peace, or to center on our own heart.” Instead this is dialogue, relationship-personal, that is, with Him as Savior, Lover, Lord, and God. In discussing how “prayer changes things” Kreeft says that “it may or may not change our circumstances. But it always changes our relationship to God, which is infinitely more important than external circumstances, however pressing they may seem, because it is eternal but they are temporary, and because it is our very self but they are not.”
While this may not be the best instructive, I would recommend this little volume to anyone seeking something that would help them in their “prayer life”.

Knowing God, Chapter One

December 12, 2006

knowinggodKnowing God, chapter one: Discusses some of what it means – the study of God. The practical benefits, some dangers and problems, and basic truths or assumptions are given prior to embarking into the study itself. A warning against Skepticism is given, alluding to the ever-prevalent notion affecting our postmodern minds, that He cannot be known in any real, definite sense; along with this is a warning regarding studying Truth and knowing God for its’ own sake. ‘Knowledge puffs up’ is the gist of the warning here, but the intended solution is very good, being drawn primarily from Psalm 119, that one would respond to God (Himself revealed) in life with godliness – growing that is, in intimacy, friendship or at-oneness, or growing in loving what He loves, and hating what He hates.

I finished reading whenriseup short little treatise on homeschooling and found it to be engaging in its’ conversation and elucidation of various points. Primarily the book offers a philospohy of Christian education which rests on the biblical mandate found in the Shema (Deut. 6.4-9). Throughout, Sproul Jr. returns to this text again and again as he shapes out a simple methodology for raising children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. First discussed are basic questions of education; who should teach our children? What should they be taught? What is the goal of education? Then the discussion moves to the command and calling of parents to educating their child. Sproul Jr.’s drawing out of what he calls ‘the three Gs’ is based from the same passage in Deuteronomy and means that primarily we are to teach our children who God is, what God has done, and what God requires of us. Throughout his treatment of these ideas Sproul Jr. calls to question some basic assumptions about education that one may have adopted from the state sytem or another human philosophy. He also seeks to have one’s view of and approach to homeschooling taken within the context of the greater battle of the seed of the woman and the serpent. It is the antithesis between the world, flesh, and the devil and the life of those in covenant with God through which he draws out the importance of rethinking assumptions, exposing fallacies in differing purposes of education. The only real criticism I have of his treatment would be the approach that is taken toward differences between boys and girls and the things that they should be taught. This area of his discussion seems to be oversimplified and leaves something to be desired when explaining that Sally needs to know all the domestic arts while Johnny needs to know how to shoot a gun. While he is careful to say that girls and boys need to know many of the same things in their education, he is not convincing in his argument for about what they need to know concerning their differing roles. Overall, the book is at once enjoyable and easy to read, and I found his comment about living “simple, deliberate, and separate lives”, to be most thought-provoking in terms of my own living out my faith. With this idea he speaks of the cultural norm of and our own view toward personal peace and affluence and calls to question the whole idea of what worldliness really means…not merely certain flagrant sins, but moreso a lack of faith and ‘friendship’ with God.