In his book, The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson writes a powerful chapter titled The Apocalyptic Pastor. Within that chapter he comments,
“Sin-habits dull our free faith into stodgy moralism and respectable boredom; then crisis rips the veneer of cliché off everyday routines and reveals the side-by-side splendors of heaven and hell.”
What a powerful quote! We’ve heard time and time again of the mundane Christian trapped between self-loathing and a directionless life. Despite our best efforts to guide the individual to the breathtaking, provocative, and unpredictable life connected to becoming a follower of Christ, there appears to be a barricade rebuffing any attempts at discovering purpose.
We read books to find our purpose. We listen to podcasts, go to conferences, and attend seminars. We hope that the purpose others have found would rub off on us via spiritual osmosis. We forget that we were never created to live someone else’s purpose. There is an internal discovery that enlivens our spirits as we begin our moments of profound prayer. These moments unite our Spirit with the will of the father and we begin praying in a new way.
But in enters sin habits. They drown our passion and disguise our purpose as indifference, apathy, and eventually hopelessness. When our prayers become empty and void of spiritual fervor and intense faith we find that what we once held as purpose has become a clouded window and the view is bleak at best. A person that would truly come to reconcile with their habits and humbly seek God’s face to overcome them, according to Peterson, has experienced an Apocalypse. He states,
“Apocalypse is arson – it secretly sets a fire in the imagination that boils the fat out of an obsess culture-religion and renders a clear gospel love, a pure gospel hope, a purged gospel faith.”
What a powerful statement. Satan is great at veiling our purpose with our desires, ensuring that one should never see the other clearly. Our selfish ambition is the beginning of disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16) and when the selfish desire to govern our purpose does not align with the humility needed to discover that purpose we find a gulf of indifference and spiritual decay. Prayer changes things. Peterson adds,
“The praying is a joining of realities, making a live connection between the place we find ourselves and the God who is finding us.”
If you find yourself trapped in an emotionless, purposeless, and caged existence with the Christian journey, it may be time to evaluate your sin-habits and confront them with the type of prayer that is lays us bare before the Lord, exposing our every fault. Only in that exasperated place of surrender can He can join us with the purpose He has intended since the beginning of all things.