Heaven is rejoicing tonight, but my heart is sad. A great man died this morning—Dallas Willard. I had the honor of learning from him in the Renovare’ Spiritual Formation Institute I was part of from 2010-2012.
I guess it’s a quirk of my personality, but famous people don’t ordinarily impress me much. However Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy, Hearing God, and Renovation of the Heart (among other titles) and professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California did. It wasn’t his accomplishments so much as his life that impressed me. He was brilliant, probably the smartest person I’ve ever known, but also one of the humblest. A truly good man who loved God, loved people, and walked his talk.
I’ve learned so much about living like Jesus from Dallas. But since Let’s Talk is a blog about prayer, I will stick to that topic. As a tribute to Dallas, I’d like to share some of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes on prayer. Thought-provoking and challenging, I hope they encourage you as they have me.
“Many people have found prayer impossible because they thought they should only pray for wonderful but remote needs they actually had little or no interest in or even knowledge of. Prayer simply dies from efforts to pray about ‘good things’ that honestly do not matter to us. The way to get to meaningful prayer for those good things is to start by praying for what we are truly interested in. The circle of our interests will inevitably grow in the largeness of God’s love.” –The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
“What prayer … presupposes is simply a personal—that is an experientially interactive—relationship between us and God, just as with a request of child to parent or friend to friend. … Accordingly, I believe the most adequate description of prayer is simply, ‘Talking to God about what we are doing together.’ That immediately focuses the activity where we are but at the same time drives the egotism out of it. Requests will naturally be made in the course of this conversational walk. Prayer is a matter of explicitly sharing with God my concerns about what he too is concerned about in my life. And of course he is concerned about my concerns and, in particular, that my concerns should coincide with his. This is our walk together. Out of it I pray. –The Divine Conspiracy
“Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs.” –Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
“The disciple and friend of Jesus who has learned to work shoulder to shoulder with his or her Lord stands in this world as a point of contact between heaven and earth, a kind of Jacob’s ladder by which the angels of God may ascend from and descend into human life. Thus the disciple stands as an envoy or a receiver by which the kingdom of God is conveyed into every quarter of human affairs.” ―Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
“Our failure to hear His voice when we want to is due to the fact that we do not in general want to hear it, that we want it only when we think we need it.” ―Hearing God
“There is no avoiding the fact that we live at the mercy of our ideas. This is never more true than with our ideas about God.” ― Hearing God
“God’s ‘response’ to our prayers is not a charade. He does not pretend that he is answering our prayer when he is only doing what he was going to do anyway. Our requests really do make a difference in what God does or does not do.” –The Divine Conspiracy
“There is no ‘silver bullet’ in prayer. Requests may be granted. Or they may not. Either way, it will be for a good reason. That is how relationships between persons are, or should be.” –The Divine Conspiracy
“Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character.” –The Divine Conspiracy
“Sometimes we must wait for God to do as we ask because the answer involves changes in other people, or even ourselves, and that kind of change always takes time.” –The Divine Conspiracy
And the most favorite of my favorite Dallas prayer quotes is his wonderful paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer.
Dear Father always near us,
May your name be treasured and loved,
May your rule be completed in us—
May your will be done here on earth
In just the way it is done in heaven.
Give us today the things we need today,
And forgive us our sins and impositions on you
As we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.
Please don’t put us through trials,
But deliver us from everything bad.
Because you are the one in charge,
And you have all the power,
And the glory too is all yours—forever—
Which is just the way we want it!
–The Divine Conspiracy