It’s time to lay this burden down and take a rest. Ten Ways to Pray is in print and eBook. You’ll notice I’ve tidied up the website, adding links to all the Scriptures, other sources, and cross-references. This stage of the work is wrapping up.
how you used the book
what you liked and didn’t like
how the method-descriptions compare with other descriptions of these methods you’ve read elsewhere
what you thought of the writing/readability
how it met your expectations and where it failed to do so
what would have made it better
When I’m researching books, I find the critical reviews to be exceedingly valuable in making my choice, so for the benefit of future readers, don’t skimp on your critique (Prov 27:6). And thank you!
I’m not going to stop praying or writing. In the Fall I’ll be participating in some prayer practice groups. And you’ll find me elsewhere on the web (here, for example). Meantime I’ll be thinking about vulnerability and reading The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner, which reads a lot less fluffy than it sounds.
You have been very generous in your participation, particularly in this most recent season of Playing with Prayer. Many thanks to all of you, especially to Andrew Brimer, who wins the prize for contributing every single day. Andy and I took chemistry together in college and then he married my roommate.
It feels like I’ve been working on prayer since college, but it’s really only been since just before I was married that the project began. It’s time for a break (from the project, not from my marriage).
When I proposed this blog-break to one of my mentoring friends, he flailed his arms and cried, “No. No. No. Now is when everything begins.” In his defense, marketing was his career, a career he closed by selling his very successful marketing research business.
To him and to the score-keeper on my shoulder, “sabbatical” sounds suspiciously like the etymological cousin of “sabotage.” Both concepts do descend from the Garden of Eden, but after that they go their separate ways. (Perfect rest? Eve throws a wrench in the works? Get it?)
“Sabotage,” as anyone who knows their classic Trek can tell you, derives from the Old French for “shoe” and develops during the French labor disputes of the early 1900s. Laborers wore noisy wooden shoes, so “sabotage” literally means “to walk noisily” and figuratively means “to bungle a job.”
The marketing department in my head is convinced that taking a break from the blog now will bungle the job entirely. The Narnian in my head, on the other hand, keeps whispering that I should trust to the “deeper magic” of Aslan’s Emperor.
“Sabbatical” derives from a much older Hebrew word for “sabbath.” In some academic and religious circles, it now means a paid year of rest, travel, or research every seventh year.
God’s Torah commanded that the land of Israel be given such a sabbatical rest (Lev 25:2–4), but the Israelites did not permit the soil to lie fallow every seventh year. Perhaps they were afraid that if they didn’t sow and weed and prune and reap, they would not eat. When they were finally deported to Assyria and Babylon, their refusal to grant the earth its due was cited among the reasons (Lev 26:27, 33–34; 2 Chr 36:21).
I’ve clung to this deeper truth since those college organic chemistry exams. Psalm 127:2 promises: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (RSV). God is the source of work and food and rest.
This is the foundation of Sabbath. God himself “rested” after six days of creation (Gen 2:2), though his toil was never anxious and he had no need of restoration in sleep. The rest of us rest as an act of trust.
Work is good. Good work is better. But anxious scrambling denies God’s sovereign love.
Refusing the temptation to claw for food (or success) submits my plans to him and retrains my “personality” to be the best of both types A and B. It transforms trust from an emotional state into a material action.
It’s time to act my trust. I’m pretty sure God can manage the distribution department of this project without a blog-barrage of my quirky humor, exegesis, and essay. After all, his resume does include creating earth. This year’s harvest will sustain me next year while the blog lies fallow.
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides (Hillsong)
May he provide for you also until we meet again. Shabbat shalom!