Recently, I read The Contemplative Pastor, subtitled “Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction.” In the middle of the book, Peterson writes of how he moved out of seminary and into being a pastor.
“I had been on an exuberant foray into the country of Scripture and theology in my years of study and was eager to take other on safari with me. I knew I could rescue the Arian controversy from textbook dullness and present the decipherment of Ugaritic in such ways that would enhance appreciation for the subtle elegances of biblical language and story.
But these people I was now living with were coming … not to get facts on the Philistines and Pharisees, but to pray. They were hungering to grow in Christ, not bone up for an examination in dogmatics.
Out of that recognition a conviction grew: that my primary educational task as a pastor was to teach people to pray.
The more I worked with people at or near the centers of their lives where God and the human, faith and the absurd, love and indifference were tangled in daily traffic jams, the less it seemed that the way I had been going about teaching made much difference, and the more that teaching them to pray did.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”