Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Zealous and burning desire

John Calvin calls prayer the chief exercise of faith by which we daily receive God's benefits. He writes extensively on it in The Way We Receieve the Grace of Christ. And he does so with great warmth and gentle direction and correction. He notes that by prayer we dig up the treasures that are pointed out by the Lord's gospel and which by faith we gaze upon. And then I'm struck by this, on why we pray:
"...That our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor..." XX.III.3.

I love this because it gives me great motive to pray. I can sort of see how it would work - though I'm on the hunt for scriptural promises that say as much.

In the gospel the treasures of heaven are opened to me through the One Mediator, Jesus Christ - what a pitiful fool I am to disregard such treasures. I really am that fool. Why would I neglect to pray? Why would I find it so hard, not to discipline my prayer with the word but simply to get down to doing it in the first place. Whoever it was that said that prayerless Christianity is practical atheism was probably right. I don't want to go there.

What amazing grace that forgives even my failing in prayer and invites me to come again to pray.

"...Just as faith is born from the gospel, so though it our hearts are trained to call upon God's name (Romans 10:14-17)..." XX.III.1.

Many people seem not to be too keen on Calvin/Calvinism. I guess this is because of a perceived problem with his emphasis on how big God is. Many haven't read the Institutes. Some of that is because it's old. Some because it's big. Some because it's called The Institutes of Christian Religion. What I'm discovering is that these books aren't that big and they are very accessible and warm. I'm loving Book III: The Way we recieve the grace of Christ. Whether you accept his teaching on election or not, what he has to say about Union with Christ and Prayer is priceless - and all of that is laid out before he enters the "sacred precincts of God" (election).


  1. Agreed Dave - the Institutes should be on all our shelves and open in all our hands as often as possible. When someone attacks Calvin for being harsh and rigid and all the usual blah de blah, it's clear evidence they've never read him. Book III is outstanding ... and I think myself that applies to his doctrine of election too!

  2. Good post!

    I am finding that there is a very real theme that is arising throughout blogdom and it is the theme of and the call for, prayer.

    Not bless the food prayer, but a heart felt seeking of the face, heart and person of the Lord Jesus Christ kind of prayer and praying.

    A call to deep, intimate and enduring prayer as a life style.

    Prayer as an essential need for each and everyone of us who are in spirit and truth called by his name.

    And this lifestyle of prayer is needed all the more as we see the day approaching.

    Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  3. totally agree with you on this. There is a real warm devotion in Calvin that is not often commented recognised.
    Thanks for the quote.

  4. You warm my heart with this. And his commentaries should be consulted too.