THE STRUGGLE OF PRAYER by Donald G. Bloesch

THE STRUGGLE OF PRAYER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Reformed theologian Bloesch has a notion of prayer so strenuous that just reading about it leaves one short of breath. Not for him the mystic's prayer of quiet, or prayer as celebration, prayer as conviviality, or, heaven help us, prayer as play. Bloesch doesn't condemn these outright, but he strongly prefers a vigorously masculine, ardent, earnest, wrestling-with-the-angel sort of prayer. This calls for more than simply petitioning God in a spirit of wholehearted evangelical concern, it's a positive striving with God, in ""an effort to change or alter his will."" We engage in this unequal contest, of course, with a penetrating sense of our own unworthiness, but at the same time with the assurance of faith, for, as Bloesch sternly insists, ""to doubt the ability or mercy of God is to sin against him."" Still, this ""naive prayer of the Bible"" isn't all a matter of grim self-abasement. It also allows for a certain boldness vis-à-vis the Creator, as in FÉnelon's remark, quoted approvingly by Bloesch, that ""If God bores you, tell him so."" As in his many other books, Bloesch's approach here is both pious and scholarly (although rather uncritical in its use of scripture, e.g., in taking Jeremiah to be the author of Lamentations). It's likewise too uncompromising to have much appeal to anyone oùtside the Lutheran-Calvinist tradition. Bloesch makes a few irenic gestures towards meditation and contemplation, but his heart isn't really in them. A fervent tract for hard-line Protestants.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row