Creative Arts 90-Day Challenge: An Intelligent Mysticism

In our Creative Arts ministry at Eastridge, we’re undergoing a 90-day challenge in which we’re reading two books: Prayer by Timothy Keller and Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. Part of this challenge is sharing our insights…so I thought, what better way to share than on this site. Here goes…

I just polished off Chapter 1 of Prayer. I knew I was going to fall in love with the book when Tim Keller quoted Flannery O’Connor’s wonderful Prayer Journal quite a bit in this chapter. You see, I’m a massive fan of Flannery O’Connor because she was an author from the South – Georgia, no less – and was a believer in Jesus. Heck, she even made her way into the title of my book!

One quote in particular struck me, and I think it will become a regular prayer of mine:

Why did this particular prayer jump out at me? I think it stems from my desire to be all-encompassingly in God’s presence. I want my mind to be uncluttered when I approach the the throne of God; I want my thought to only be on Him and to only be on what will bring Him glory. Flannery O’Connor expressed this sentiment in her gloriously inimitable way, and I love it!

Later on in the chapter, Keller recalls the words of Scottish theologian John Murray in another, longer quote that I deeply dig:

I love the concept of “intelligent mysticism.” The idea brings together the head and the heart in a way that makes perfect sense when describing faith. For me, sometimes my relationship with God can be cerebral. I can ponder and overthink my spiritual life to a fault. At other times, it’s deep and emotional in a way that’s almost unreal.

These two approaches to faith aren’t opposites; in fact, they’re facets of the same thing. In the rarest and richest moments, the cerebral and the mysterious come together in a most satisfying way, and the phrase “intelligent mysticism” encapsulates that tension between the two extremes.

What do you think? What stood out to you from this chapter?