It was in seminary that I was introduced to the idea of praying the Apostle Paul’s prayers. My Greek professor, Dr. Don Carson (a.k.a. D.A. Carson), wrote a book on prayer (A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers), and as the title suggests, it was mostly about using Paul’s prayers to petition the Lord. I’ve mentioned Dr. Carson a couple of times already on my blogs. He is not only one of the most brilliant men I have ever met (one person said, during seminary – the greatest mind on the New Testament alive today), but he was my academic advisor my first year of seminary. I have a few Dr. Carson stories that I will have to relate sometime. More than once, I asked him a question and he replied, “You know, I wrote a book on that.” And he wouldn’t be kidding – he’s written or co-authored more than 45 books.
Out of love for my dear professor, I wrote him a limerick once and put it on the chalkboard before he came into our morning class. To appreciate this little ditty, you’ll need to know that there was a Professor of Preaching at the seminary named Dr. Larson, and that Dr. Carson never let us use Bibles that had the English words over the Greek words (called Interlinears) to easily translate. I guess he wanted Greek to be as hard as possible. Oh, yeah, one more thing – although he had reached the top of his game in academia, he once confessed to us that he missed the pastorate (where he had started his ministry):
There once was a Doctor named Carson,
Who talked just as good as a Larson.
He taught us the Greek.
Interlinears, don’t peek!
The truth is he’d rather be a parson.
Dr. Carson came into class, saw my attempt at poetry, said, “Not bad” and quickly erased the whole thing. He was a real treat. I have many wonderful recollections of seminary, and among them are two days of Greek exegesis class where the great man stopped teaching us Greek and took two classes to revel in the beauty and necessity of Christ-centered preaching.(To paraphrase…”Where preaching is at a high state, the church is at a high state; where preaching is at a low state, the church suffers!”) I still see him when he is speaking at conferences that I go to now and then, and he half remembers me – at least my face.
But I was going to write about praying Paul’s prayers, a habit which Dr. Carson taught me. I regularly pray 7 of Paul’s prayers, keeping in mind my family and my church family. They are…Colossians 1:9 – 12; Ephesians 1:16 – 19; Ephesians 3:14 – 19; 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12; Romans 15:13; Philippians 1:9 – 11; 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13.
Let me just say a word about one of the shorter ones – Romans 15:13…
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (ESV)
It’s a great prayer to pray for someone who is struggling with assurance of salvation, and there are a couple of people in our congregation who have talked to me about this, and so I have their names on this card, but it’s good to pray for everyone. I want my wife and kids to abound in hope and I want all of our Edgewood family to be filled with joy and peace, and I personally want to be overflowing with hope.
So if you’re looking for a way to energize your prayer life with some really biblical prayers, this is a great place to start. You’ll be praying like the doctor named Carson…not to mention like the Apostle Paul himself.
March 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm
Very cool. I also enjoy being tought by a ‘master’ of a particular knowledge base and have similar fond memories of non-seminary professor interaction. There is a neat bond of respect interweaved with a students horizon being broadened through knowledge that I’m not sure if most professors are aware of. It was and still is sometimes easy for me to get enamored by the profuse flow knowledge that I shift from thinking through the information myself to agreeing with the entire data steam without thinking critically about it.
However, this makes me think about how much more we should be and will be enamored with the knowledge and power and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when the limits of our human minds grasp the height, depth, length, and breadth of Almighty God when we are with him forever in heaven. Very encouraging!