In HOPE 7.12                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Interested in another insightful book on the Lord's Prayer? You might like to consider Albert Haase's Swimming in the Sun: Discovering the Lord's Prayer with Francis of Assisi and Thomas Merton (St Anthony Messenger Press, 1993; 216pp). Haase weaves together stories and insights from these saints of the past with powerful illustrations from his own experience. 

Hope Happenings

Hope International University presents the 1st Annual 100 Hole Golf Marathon Fund-raiser on June 4, 2007, at Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach, CA. Funds raised will go toward student scholarships and departmental programs. For more information, go to

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"God remains hidden from the arrogant gaze of our investigating mind which seeks to capture him and secure permanent possession of him in an act of knowledge that gives power over him."  -- Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer, p.82

Controlling God

The temptation to control God -- to be God -- goes back to the Garden and remains fully alive today. It creeps up on us with great subtlety. No snakes in trees.

Merton's quote, above, exposes one of the usual disguises. At times, we want to know more about Him so we can have power over Him. We hope that our knowledge might domesticate Him; make Him predictable and manageable.

We trade in that knowledge ... give money for it and give authority to people who know what we want to know. We all desire a God we can understand and regulate. If possible, we would reduce His mystery to consistent formulae and reliable dictums.

It's precisely this mentality that makes prayer both necessary and difficult.

Prayer, at its richest, emerges from the relational context of reverence and dependence, not over-familiarity and demand. It won't pin Him down. We can make requests and pleas but our most mature prayer responds to God rather than bargains with Him.

In prayer we surrender control of ourselves and our circumstances to Him. Prayer becomes the very transference of control -- something we resist in nearly every area of our lives. When we pray, we submit -- or should.

Of course, we can utter "Your will be done" with the intention that He'll really do our will. We can offer what we have to Him, in the hope that He'll repay in far more generous terms. Prayer - the unformed and uninformed kind - usually seeks to control the Father. However, the prayer of intimacy and attentiveness produces deep submission on our part.

Praying seems easy when it's simply a system. We run through the motions, follow the pattern, and copy the model. But such prayer usually degenerates into either heartless repetition or subtle manipulation.

May our prayers change our hearts before they move God's. May they hand Him control. And in the act of yieldedness and trust, we'll discover the most authentic partnership of all.



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.