Life and Ministry with Peter Jensen

A sweeping conversation with Peter Jensen, former Archbishop of Sydney, about life and ministry – including his favourite book of all-time, how he became a Christian, why he wanted to be a stand-up comedian, why he tries to emulate Billy Graham, and how he has found spiritual refreshment for the last five decades.

Peter JensenGR: Peter, what’s the best way to introduce you?

PJ: Someone recently introduced me by saying that I was the former Archbishop of Sydney, which means I’m dead. But I am the former Archbishop of Sydney, the former Principal of Moore College, an ordained clergyman – but most of all, I’m a son of God.

GR: This may be apocryphal, but I’ve heard it said that if you hadn’t gone into full-time Christian ministry, you would have liked to consider a career as a stand-up comedian… Continue reading

Who I Am, and Why I’m Here

Cartoon Profile PicI have to confess, talking about myself doesn’t come naturally. One of the earliest pieces of advice about Christian ministry I ever received (so early that at the time I didn’t know exactly what it meant or why it mattered so much) was this: ‘The best Christian leaders are the ones who tell you about Jesus, not about themselves.’ That simple tip has stuck with me and, I hope, served me well. I feel like I’m about to break that rule.

Still, I suspect it will help me – and perhaps some of my readers – to be clear on why I actually spend time blogging. And my WordPress blogging tutorial says I’m supposed to do it. So, this is me:

First and foremost, I’m a Christian. This is slightly old-fashioned of me, but I believe the Bible is God’s word to his world. I believe that every word of the Bible is true, and that what it says about Jesus is true – namely, that he is the one and only way that rebels like me (and you) can be reconciled to the God who made us. I believe that through his death in my place, and through his bodily resurrection, Jesus secures the forgiveness I need, he offers a certain hope that transforms my life now, and he has granted me an eternal inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. Wanna know more? Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 31 – Time to Pray

PrayWe made it – 31 days of prayer, done and dusted. If you’ve been here throughout the month, or if you’ve just dropped in occasionally, thanks for being part of it!

Actually, let’s not kid ourselves. Thirty-one days of blogging about prayer is hardly 31 days of prayer. My lingering suspicion – based largely on my personal experience – is that it’s far, far easier to talk about prayer, read about prayer, or think about prayer than it is to pray. Anyone with me?

So as we finish, let me recommend this short article from Don Carson, ‘Lessons from the School of Prayer’, as a way of helping you take specific action. This originally formed an Appendix to his magisterial book on prayer, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, but has now been reproduced in this abridged form with his permission. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 30 – Resources to get us praying

As much as I hope ’31 Days of Prayer’ has helped you grow in your knowledge of prayer and in you prayerfulness, there’s only so much that short, daily reflections like this can achieve. So today, I’m providing a short guide to some of the best books on prayer.

Remember, reading about prayer is not the same thing as praying. If we think highly of prayer but never actually do it, then something is seriously missing. So if you’re going to embark on reading a whole book about prayer, do it thoughtfully and carefully, and with a willingness to change your priorities so you pray more.

That said, all these books will do you good. No doubt there are many others that could be added to this list, but these are the ones I’ve found most helpful (or which people I trust have recommended to me). Why not pick at least one, order a copy, and set a time to read through it?

Prayer and the Voice of God by Phillip D. Jensen & Tony Payne – A wonderfully clear, no-nonsense book on prayer that covers the key biblical material and will answer most people’s biggest questions about prayer. Biblically rich and wonderfully practical. 190 pages  |  Kindle / eBook

A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson – Essential reading. Carson works through the apostle Paul’s prayers, showing how they should transform not just our prayers, but every part of our spiritual lives. A modern classic. 230 pages  |  Kindle

You Can Pray by Tim Chester – I always appreciate Tim Chester’s earthy, insightful approach to the Bible, and this is no exception. It opens with a Trinitarian approach to prayer, then moves on to consider challenges and questions that make praying difficult. 170 pages.

The Valley of Vision – a collection of over 200 prayers from Puritan writers. A brilliant resource that will teach you to pray, and help you to pray biblically when your own words won’t come. 400 pages  | Paperback

Praying by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom – Typical Packer, this book is thorough and biblically rich. I like his choice of title – selected deliberately to convey the idea that thinking about prayer doesn’t matter nearly as much as actually praying. 320 pages.

Our Father by Richard Coekin – (unread) A guide to ‘enjoying God in prayer’ by working through the Lord’s Prayer. 190 pages  |  Kindle

Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell – (unread) From the back cover: “Praying Backwards introduces believers to the transforming process of beginning our prayers in Jesus’ name – not by moving a simple phrase, but by understanding and embracing the meaning behind the phrase. To truly pray in Jesus’ name is to reorder our priorities in prayer – and in life – away from ourselves and toward Jesus and his kingdom. It is to pray, “Not my will, but your will be done.” It is to pray boldly, expectantly, and persistently. If you want to revolutionize your prayer life, begin by Praying Backwards.” 210 pages  |  Kindle (on special for just $2 at time of publication)

Prayer by Tim Keller – (released November 2014) If you’re a fan of Tim Keller’s growing body of work, you’ll want to add this to your list.

Other Resources
JC Ryle – Prayer

Don Carson – Lessons from the School of Prayer


‘The Chat Room’ on prayer – an enlightening and enjoyable half-hour discussion on biblical prayer






31 Days of Prayer: Day 29 – Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

Persevere“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

Would you be relieved to know that Jesus understood prayer is hard work? Would you be encouraged to know he taught a parable specifically designed for people who were tempted to lose heart when it came to prayer? Me too!

The opening words of the parable in Luke 18 fill me with enormous hope. Jesus knew that prayer would be a struggle, and he told a parable to address this struggle. In this parable, Jesus describes a ‘persistent widow’ coming before a judge – a man who neither fears God nor respects man – to seek justice against her adversary. After initially refusing her request, the unrighteous judge relents, giving her justice so he won’t be beaten down ‘by her continual coming’. Jesus then makes his point: “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8) Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 28 – Fighting the spiritual battle on our knees

This Means War“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. … Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:12, 18)

One of the reasons prayer is hard (and it is, in case you missed the memo on that) is that’s it’s part of an unseen but all-too-real spiritual battle. We’re not just battling our own busyness and tiredness, our own sinfulness and self-sufficiency when we try to pray. We’re battling Satan, the great adversary of God. And he delights in prayerless Christians. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 27 – Why your ‘shopping list prayers’ are right, and wrong

Shopping List“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:9-11)

Somewhere along the line, some clever Christian came up with the belittling idea of ‘shopping list prayers’. You know the idea – when you want to criticise someone for praying selfish, navel-gazing prayers, just deride it as a ‘shopping list prayer’.

I think the ‘shopping list’ has become a decidedly unhelpful Christian putdown. There’s nothing wrong with bringing all our requests to God. In fact, there’s everything right with it: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6) “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) There is plenty to be anxious about in the average life, so bring your ‘shopping list’ to God, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

However… Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 26 – The glories and ironies of the Lord’s Prayer

AUSTRALIA-PARLIAMENTA brief look at the prayer that changed the world

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13)

It’s the most important, precious prayer ever uttered – a lesson in prayer from the master, an intimate guide from the perfect Son on praying to the perfect Father. Just 57 simple words,* but words that have changed the world in untold ways. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 25 – Dust off your Prayer Book and learn to pray

Valley of VisionPrayer is meant to be simple – right? Just a helpless, trusting child talking to a loving Father in heaven. No fancy words needed, no magical techniques required, no limits on what we can pray about.

So if that’s true, is there a place for actually working at the content of our prayers? Does it matter what we pray for, or how we pray? Or is it more godly for our prayers to remain in a state of spiritual infancy, lest we try to impress God with our words?

Like most things in the Christian walk, a life of prayer is caught more than it’s taught. Over the next couple of days, we’ll look at what the Bible teaches us about the content of our prayers – how the model prayer of Jesus teaches us, and how the examples of Paul’s prayers shape our understanding. But for today, let’s think about something that, for most of us, has probably gone well and truly out of fashion: using formulaic prayers. Continue reading