I don’t know why this offended me. I was standing in the section of the local Lifeway Christian Store that features books on prayer–I must have a hundred and am always looking for the next great one–and picked up one by a Southern Baptist pastor from a nearby state. I scanned the table of contents to see what his book covered, then read the comments on the back.
At the bottom of the back cover was the author’s thumb-sized photo and a small bio. “Pastor So-and-So is an expert on prayer,” it announced. That stopped me in my tracks. Until that moment, I don’t think I had ever actually heard anyone referred to as an expert on prayer. On expository preaching, perhaps, and evangelism, leadership, sermon-building, stewardship, and a dozen other aspects of the ministry. But prayer?
How does one get to be an expert on prayer? At what point does he or she move from apprenticeship in this greatest of all subjects to becoming a master?
I wondered if the pastor wrote that line or if the publisher did it for him. One thing we can be sure of, it was done with the pastor’s knowledge and approval. And that makes me wonder if his choosing to leave the line in was an act of hubris and not of humility.
As I say, I’m still trying to figure out why that offended me. Maybe I’m just a tad upset that someone is a better pray-er than I, although that is certainly not news and never has been. I’m under no illusion about the inadequacies of my prayer life, even though I consider myself a person of prayer.
“We do not know how to pray as we should.”
Paul said that in Romans 8:26. It appears to me that if anyone could claim status as a prayer expert, it would be this apostle. Not only does he refuse the designation, he basically says there aren’t any, that no one qualifies for that august category.
There are no experts on prayer.