Thursday, February 17, 2011

Praising His Perfections

"When was the last time you were fascinated with God? At one time or another all of us have met someone we greatly admire... yet we are seldom so amazed or fascinated with God. Prayer is an excellent means of refreshing our appreciation for God. Simply telling God about His excellent qualities stirs our heart to wonder. Regrettably Christians typically ignore the qualities of God in their prayers. They may say something like 'Thank You for who You are...' but they never stop to talk about just who God is." ~ Dr. Richard Pratt

Dr. Pratt is an adjunct professor of Reformed Theological Seminary and the founder and president of Third Millennium Ministries. He is also the general editor of the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (a great study Bible but apparently it has been discontinued so people are charging ridiculous prices for it) and the author of many books like Designed for Dignity (an excellent book) and He Gave Us Stories.

This particular quote comes from a lecture in a class I took from him. I found it to be very convicting because I often come to God also "typically [ignoring] the qualities of God" in my prayer. As I thought about this I decided to make a resolution (much like the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards), "Resolved to each day admire in prayer a different perfection of God and to spend time reflecting on it." I would be lying if I said that I have kept this perfectly, but, when I do, I find it really does refresh my appreciation for God and magnify Him in my heart.

There are several great books out there about God's perfections ("perfection" is the term that Berkhof uses in place of "attribute" in his Systematic Theology, a great resource). The above image is borrowed from one of those great books, A. W. Tozer's The Attributes of God. Below is the list that I work from (taken from Berkhof's Systematic Theology), which may differ slightly in categorization from other lists but I think it covers what God has chosen to reveal to us in His Word:
  • The independence/self-existence of God -- God has the ground of His existence in Himself only.
  • The immutability of God -- God is unchangeable, He is forever the same in His divine Being and perfections and also in His purposes and promises.
  • The infinity of God -- God is not subject to limitations outside His nature (spacial, temporal, dynamical, etc.).
  • The simplicity of God -- God is not composed of various parts. (This one can be confusing. It does not mean God is "simple" as in "easy to comprehend" because He is certainly not that. It is the way older theologians used to express the idea that God does not have parts like creatures do. Wherever He is (which is everywhere) He is completely, so at no time can we be in the presence of one of God's perfections without also being in the presence of all the others.)
  • The knowledge of God -- God, in a manner all His own, knows Himself completely and all things possible and actual.
  • The wisdom of God -- God's selection of worthy ends and choice of the best means for the realization of those ends.
  • The goodness of God -- God's perfection which prompts Him to deal kindly and bounteously with His creatures.
  • The love of God -- God's delight in His own perfections, in man as the reflection of His image, and in believers as His children. 
  • The holiness of God -- God's perfection by which He is absolutely distinct from all His creatures, is exalted above them in infinite majesty, and is free from all moral impurity or sin.
  • The righteousness of God -- God maintains Himself as the Holy One over against every violation of His holiness.
  • The veracity of God -- God is true to Himself, His Word, and His promises in His nature, in His revelation, and in His relation to His people.
  • The sovereignty of God -- God's sovereign will and His sovereign power are all-powerful and complete over everything in existence. 
Your prayer time may already be rich and may constantly leave you with a greater wonder at God's majesty (if it does, fantastic!), but if it does not, considering giving Dr. Pratt's advice a try. I have found it very helpful.

By His Grace,

1 comment:

Dyl said...

Thanks a lot, Taylor! That is an excellent quote and certainly is something we need to be striving to include in our prayers every day.