The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - My Book Notes - Part 7 - The Community of Prayerful Love

Welcome to part 7 of my blog series on Dallas Willard's book "The Divine Conspiracy". Please look at the chapter list to move between the other parts of this series.

What I learnt From This Chapter

This chapter changed my whole approach to prayer and still challenges me every time I read it. It took me out a position of futility and moved into a position in which I am a participant with God in His Kingdom through prayer. I hope that this section blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Chapter List

Chapter 1 - Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now
Chapter 2 - Gospels of Sin Management
Chapter 3 - What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World
Chapter 4 - Who is Really Well Off? - The Beatitudes
Chapter 5 - The Righteousness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees
Chapter 6 - Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputations and Wealth
Chapter 7 - The Community of Prayerful Love
Chapter 8 - On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus
Chapter 9 - A Curriculum for Christlikeness
Chapter 10 - The Restoration of all Things

Chapter 7 - The Community of Prayerful Love

No Condemnation

Unsolicited advice is us trying to manage the world on our own.

Once Again, the Centrality of the Order

The order of the sermon on the mount is really important. So far we have laid aside anger, contempt, lust, reputation and the desire for wealth.

We will then be ready for what is next. 

Judge Not

When we condemn someone we are communicating that they are bad (as a whole) and to be rejected.

Who Can Correct Others?

If there is a lack of clarity about whether the sin occurred, presume that it did not.

Not just anyone should correct (only a few spiritual people).

It is always a matter of restoration.

The ones who are restoring others should be aware of the knowledge that they could easily do the same thing.

C.S. Lewis = parents attitudes to children is far worse than children's attitudes to parents (The Four Loves).

The decision to step away from condemnation (either the giving or receiving) is a major turning point in our faith journey.

Once we drop contempt we are halfway there to stopping condemnation.

The 'You Be Not Judged'

In most cases when we condemn we are not dealing with wise people - but just people - and we do them great harm.

Eliminate Condemnation and Then Help

Condemnation IS the board in our eye. This is how Jesus knows that we have a board in our eye.

We cannot see our brother, and cannot help him until we become the kind of person that does not condemn.

Judging and Discerning

Dentist judges, discerns etc. the quality of our teeth and gums. But we would not say that he is condemning us.

We can train ourselves to assess people and discuss what has happened without rejecting them.

Last half of Matthew 7 devoted to discernment

When Good Things Become Deadly - Of Pearls and Pigs

Condemning goes hand in hand with pushing things upon people (whether they want or are ready for them).

We take This passage as people who are unworthy of our treasures.

The coming of Christ into the world (as the pearl of great price) stands opposed to this reading.

The point is not the waste of the pearl, but that the use of the pearl has not helped.

We are really trying to bring people under our control.

We must always respect other people as spiritual beings who are responsible for their own selves.

The Serpent and the Dove

We must still help them though.

Wisdom of the snake - be watchful and observant until the time to act, then act.

Dove - do not contrive or intrigue, or guile, or indirect.

Guilelessness is very important (like a child).

These are qualities we must have to walk in the kingdom with others.

Rooted in patience, confidence, hopefulness, truthfulness and respect.

The Dynamic of the Request

As long as I am condemning my friends or relatives, or am pushing my pearls on them, then I am their problem.

Once I back away, maintaining a sensitive and non-manipulative presence I am no longer a problem.

When I listen then they do not have to protect themselves from me. I become an ally.

Genuine communication becomes an attractive possibility.

When we stand in the kingdom, our approach will be simply to ask them to change, and help them in any way that they ask of us.

Asking God to bring change becomes a natural dynamic.

Ask, seek, knock teaching first applies to others before it applies to God.

The latch of the heart is kept within.

The Unity of Spiritual Orientation

Life in the Kingdom of God is not something that we do; we must surrender the inmost reality of self to God.

A request unites; a command separates.

Ask, seek, knock; that is how we are to relate to others.

The Continuum of Prayer

Prayer is nothing but a proper way of persons to act.

Our confidence in God is the only thing that makes it possible for us to treat others as they should be treated.

Where Quarrelling and Fighting Come From

It is the life of prayer that discovers a space in which we all can live.

The Mediator in the Community of Love

In the spiritual community there is never any immediate relationship between human beings.

No relationships that omit the presence and relationship of Jesus.

Our fellowship is rooted in Jesus alone.

Jesus stands between the lover and the loved.

In this way i must release them from all coercion, manipulation etc.

Laughter and Redemption

Purely spiritual relationships are dangerous at best.

Laughter is primary response to human incongruity.

Jesus was a master of humour.

Prayer in the Cosmetic Setting - On Not Getting What We Ask For

'Asking' does not mean 'getting' in the way that we think it does.

Human finitude means we are limited in power, love, knowledge, communication etc.

C.S. Lewis - prayers are not always granted. Not because prayer is a weaker kind of causality, but because it is stronger. It is not bound by physics (From the Essay 'The Efficacy of Prayer').

We have two kinds of causation. One is entirely under our control. One is related to asking, and is not under our control.

Our domain by nature is the one under our control.

Those beyond us are good that they are beyond us.

Reaching for further understanding of prayer as such

Prayer the mightiest force in the world - Frank Laubach

Prayer - asking and receiving - John R Rice

Prayer - George Butrick

Prayer, finding the hearts true home - Richard Foster.

Do not succumb to heroic efforts of prayer - heroism is nothing in the kingdom until you have come to a spiritual place where it is not considered heroism. To do this will just lead to guilt.

Prayer is Basically Request

Lords is prayer is basically asking for stuff.

God is not a cosmic butler - on the other hand I am to pray for things that concern me.

God is concerned about our concerns (and in particular that our concerns are his concerns).

Other Valid Aspects of a Praying Life

Just talking to God is not prayer - neither is praise.

Praise is the only sane attitude in which to live.

Can We Change God?

Our requests really make a difference in what God does and does not do.

Examples of Moses and Hezekiah

Parents respond to the requests of their children.

A Universe Responsive to Personality

Universe responds to desire and will - at bottom Trinitarian.

No science attempts to demonstrate that everything is physical.

Quarks are not absolute beings.

All reality is subject to God's will.

Our body is subject to our will.

Therefore matter is not indifferent to personality.

Scientific Studies of Prayer

Prayer can change your life - book on healing prayer studies

Over 130 studies of prayer done.

Randolph Byrd - University California - 1988

Larry Dossey - Healing Words - another book on healing prayer.

Distance had no bearing in studies.

Neither did lead lined boxes.

Prayer is an expression of thought will and desire.

Prayer Trains us to Reign

This is why it involves years of effort - it is a character forming discipline.

A major element is waiting for God to move.

Why James says patience in trials makes us perfect.

Does This Offend God's Dignity?

The God of the Bible is "the most moved mover".

The Grandest Prayer of All - The Lord's Prayer

Infinite energy of a personal nature is the ultimate reality.

When we pray we enter into the real world.

Transfiguration is the highest revelation of the nature of matter ever recorded.

Matter is the place for the development and manifestation of finite personalities.

We learn to use the words given by him to speak intelligently with our Father.

God Must Be Addressed

1 - The address "Father"

Address is vital

Meaning of plural "heavens" - sees God as present far out, but also all around us - the first of the heavens. Our father, always near us.

5 categories of request
  1. That God's name would be respected
  2. That His kingdom would come
  3. That our needs will be met
  4. That our sins are forgiven
  5. Not come under trial or have bad things happen to us.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

In biblical world names are never just names. They partake of the reality that they refer to.

His name be treasured and loved etc.

Human life is not about human life. Nothing will go right until that source of life is fully grasped; otherwise the human compass will be pointed in the wrong direction.

Natural desire of children, for their parents to be respected.

Thy Kingdom Come

Comes from child's confidence in father. Kingdom of God - range of effective will. Not happens usually on earth.

Praying for the institutional and structural evils in this world.

Give Daily Bread Daily

Includes everything needed to live in a functional manner (1 Timothy 6:8)

- Much like provision of God in desert wandering of his people.

In this we are free from concern.

Don't Punish Us for Things We Do Wrong

Asking for mercy, or pity.

Psalm 103:10-14 - God does not deal with us in the way that we deserve.

Not psychologically possible to know the pity of God but to be hard hearted towards others.

We all have a deep biological need to honour our parents - to be thankful for their existence and be thankful for their role in our existence.

The problem is pride

We must see all dimension of our human situation - in order to have an adequate picture in our place before God.

Only the word pity reaches to the heart of our human condition.

Don't Put Us to the Test

Not about temptation to sin - about trials in general.

We can't stand up to much pressure - it is a vote of no confidence in our own ability.

We must avoid an attitude of self-confidence - we are asking for pity - to not let bad things happen to us.

God will keep us from trials and deliver us from evil.

We do have trials, and some bad things come to us. But we will also be assured that any trial or evil has a special function in God's plans.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When trials are permitted, it only means that he has something better for us. Trials are not his preferred way of dealing with us. - Psalm 119:67-71

Discipline is not joyful but sorrowful.
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