One of the things I remember learning in Bible college is that the Holy Spirit dwells in the church as well as in individual Christians. Of course this doesn’t lead to infallibility in any church any more than it does in individuals, because our perfection is yet to come. In my tradition at least, I think we have sadly de-emphasized the importance of the gathered church listening to the Holy Spirit. Of course we have sermons and Bible studies, but so often we seem to be looking for intellectual learning rather than listening to God.
A couple of times in our prayer meetings recently I have tried to encourage a more conversational style of prayer which involves much more listening and not moving on from one subject to another too quickly. I came across some very helpful principles along these lines in a book called Prayer: Conversing With God by Rosalind Rinker. I haven’t read the book yet, just a few snippets which are on Google Books. When those present have followed the principles it’s been a real blessing with a special sense of God’s speaking to us as we have prayed.
Since starting this post I’ve found out a little more about this book and its author. Rosalind Rinker went to China as a missionary in about 1926 when she was 20 years old and remained there for about 14 years. In 1945 she joined the staff of Inter Varsity Fellowship in the U.S. and wrote this book in 1959. She died in 2002. I was most shocked to find that not only is the book well known but in October 2006, Christianity Today Magazine published its list of “The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals” (over the past 50 years). Rinker’s Prayer: Conversing with God was voted number one on that list by CT‘s editors. How many people have recommended this book to me? I guess it’s time to buy a copy and read it.