Eugene Peterson

Peterson on the Shape of Creation

Today's Worship Quote is another from Eugene Peterson's book Answering God, a wonderful study of how to use the Psalms as tools for prayer.  Peterson was Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Prayer recovers the shape of our creation. We are created in "the image of God." We are declared, on the authority of Genesis, "good." We, and everyone and everything around us have this basic beauty, this wondrous goodness. But we very often don't feel at all good. We do not perceive ourselves "in the image of God." We are conscious of failure and inadequacy; we experience criticism and rejection; we feel lousy. The memory of our good creation is obscured in a thick fog of failure and inadequacy.

Prayer is a reentry into the reality of our good creation. The Psalms, all spoken out of this ordered and purposed beauty, activate our memories of creation. Always the Genesis milieu is implicit; sometimes it is explicit. When we pray the Psalms we consciously enter the reality of our good creation.

Our lives are bracketed by God: "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth!" is the first last line of both Psalm 8 and of our lives. Within the brackets-and there is nothing that is not within the brackets-our creation takes place.

- Eugene H. Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989).

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Peterson on a Thanksgiving Psalm

Psalms (The Message)
By Eugene H. Peterson


On your feet now-applaud Yahweh!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourself into his presence.

Know this: Yahweh is God, and God Yahweh.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourself at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For Yahweh is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

- Eugene H. Peterson, from THE MESSAGE: PSALMS, NavPress, 1994.


Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is a very familiar psalm, but in a fresh setting by Eugene Peterson. If the shock is too great, you can look at Psalm 100 in your favorite translation.

[Don't forget the password!]

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 2/17/1998)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Peterson on How Prayer Is Answering Speech

Prayer is never the first word. It is always the second word. God has the first word. Prayer is answering speech; it is not primarily "address" but "response." Essential to the practice of prayer is to fully realize this secondary quality . . . .

One of the indignities to which pastors are routinely subjected is to be approached, as a group of people are gathering for a meeting or meal, with the request, "Reverend, get things started for us with a little prayer, will ya?" It would be wonderful if we [this book is written to pastors] would
counter by bellowing William McNamara's fantasized response: "I will not! There are no LITTLE prayers! Prayer enters the lion's den, brings us before the holy where it is uncertain whether we will come back alive or sane, for 'it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.'"

. . . Prayer is not something we think up to get God's attention or enlist his favor. Prayer is ANSWERING speech. The first word is God's word. Prayer is a human word and is never the first word, never the primary word, never the initiating and shaping word simply because WE are never first, never primary. We do not honor prayer by treating it as something that it is not, even when that something is, as we suppose, sacred and exalted.


Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is another that shares an important insight about the nature of prayer. These words are easy to understand and hard to practice. Eugene Peterson is writing to pastors. For a little more on the "lion's den" aspect of prayer, you may want to refer to this wonderful passage from THE SILVER CHAIR.

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 11/9/1999)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Peterson on God Gathering His People

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE deals with "centering"; not as a New Age meditative practice, but in the thoroughly biblical sense of focusing our soul's longings on the God of the Creation "in whom we live and move and have our being." The author is Eugene Peterson.

In worship God gathers his people to himself as center: "The Lord reigns" (Ps. 93:1). Worship is a meeting at the center so that our lives are centered in God and not lived eccentrically. We worship so that we live in response to and from this center, the living God. Failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren. Without worship we live manipulated and manipulating lives. We move in either frightened panic or deluded lethargy as we are, in turn, alarmed by specters and soothed by placebos. If there is no center, there is no circumference. People who do not worship are swept into a vast restlessness, epidemic in the world, with no steady direction and no
sustaining purpose.

- Eugene Peterson, LIVING THE MESSAGE, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996, p. 74.


Lord, forgive me for too often "centering" my attention and affection on the many distractions of life. By your mercy, help me to find my center in you. Amen!

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Luke on Arrogance

Tax Man

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE comes from one of Jesus' parables and deals with spiritual arrogance in prayer.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

- Luke 18:9-14


What would Jesus say about our quickness to criticize others and the way they worship - what I call the "us-and-them" factor?

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.