One on One with John Starke on Having a Deeper Prayer Life

We need a deep, hidden life for a fruitful, public life.

Ed: Why a book on prayer? Have you noticed deficiencies in how we are doing in the church in regards to prayer life?

John: We live in a performative age. “Performative individualism” is how Sophie Gilbert describes our society, where the performance of the self is more important than the reality of it. The most obvious place this shows up is in social media, where we curate our image to give the impression that we are okay and that we’re successful.

But there are also forms of performative individualism in our vocations, relationships, and even our families. Jesus warns against this in “performing your righteousness before others” in a kind of performative spirituality. The fruit of that is a culture of hyper-insecurity, a lack of self-awareness, and deep status anxiety.

We are likely all shaped by this culture in more subconscious ways than we think.

The answer to this performative life is to have a regular, hidden life with God. For many people, that’s intimidating. Oftentimes, when we hear of a “deep prayer life,” they imagine the one or two people in their church who are mature, or pastors, or folks made of different spiritual stuff.

I wrote this book because the Bible imagines prayer to be a very ordinary thing for very ordinary people. The whole first half of the book is aimed at showing that a satisfying and vibrant prayer life is for all who are in Christ.

Ed: What are some of the regular pathways and rhythms of a life of prayer?

John: After we grasp that prayer is possible for us, we learn the pathways. That’s the concern of the second half of the book, where I look at six main disciplines: communion, mediation, solitude, feasting and fasting, and corporate worship. …

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