So how could I sleep in when I had the chance to go to a bible study led by Eugene Peterson?
Prayer and scripture, he said, go together and mutually affect each other. Scriptures shape our prayers, and without prayer, we cannot understand the scriptures. He used Zechariah’s prayer in Luke 1: 68-79 to shape our thoughts. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow account, but I will note that it’s so obvious how deeply he has studied the bible, what with writing a paraphrase of it and all.
In the first section of the prayer, there are 19 allusions to the Hebrew bible, and it’s all about what God does. There are 10 different verbs with God as the subject, and only one where we are the subject.
“I live in a world dominated by the verbs of God. I only get to serve.”
He prays Zechariah’s prayer every morning, following the practice of the church for the first 1800 years of its existence. In the second section, where Zechariah holds his newborn baby John in his arms and prays for the child, Peterson says he inserts his own name in John’s place each morning.
“I get to be John, the prophet preparing the way of the Lord!”
The final section of the prayer is Jesus breaking in, the daybreak, the dawn of God’s saving power. Salvation is not just our ticket to heaven, not just forgiveness for our sins; it is entry into a new, living, breathing country where God’s rule and reign are complete.
“The ending of the prayer is not me! It’s the daybreak, the dawn of the Jesus. It’s the country of salvation I walk in.”