Where is the nicest, most expensive restaurant you have ever been? Can you picture it in your mind? Perhaps there were candles on the table, the finest linen napkins and sparkling clean silver place settings. Do you smell the aroma of the chef’s finest wares being prepared in the kitchen, the saliva rising in your palate at the conundrum you face in choosing from among those many delicious offerings? Perhaps you chose a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner on a special occasion. Do you hear the gentle strains of a violin expertly played setting the mood? Do you see in the dim light your beloved’s beautiful face across the table? Can you feel your lover’s hand? Smell her scent? Feel his strength?
Eugene Peterson suggests that this is the picture we should have of our prayer life with God. It should be like two lovers spending an intimate evening in conversation, sharing their lives.
By contrast, Peterson says that most of us imagine our lives as a restaurant where God is not our dinner companion but is instead our waiter. We show up when we are hungry. We expect the waiter to be there right away, to bring us what we want with all haste and anticipate when we need more tea. If we go to the place often enough, we might know his name, but we do not feel any loss of we don’t see him for awhile…until we’re hungry for that particular restaurant again.
The prayer life that really sustains us when we are tempted and troubled must be the prayer life that really experiences God as our most intimate companion. We cannot get that kind of intimacy with God by our own will power. It is a gift of grace. But it is a gift that God wants to give to everyone who will ask for it with a sincere and humble heart.
He is waiting for you now, in the back, in the corner, candles lit, lights dimmed, music playing. Will you come?
(I have expanded a little on Eugene Peterson’s parable. If you would like to read Peterson’s parable, he uses it in his book Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best. I highly recommend this book. Eugene Peterson is the translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. To learn more about Peterson and his writings visit eugenepetersononline.com.)
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church