I have previously mentioned a Practical Theology course led by Pastor John Piper as part of The Bethlehem Institute vocational elder training program. The course consists in a series of eight 5-hour seminars (and one 10-hour seminar) led by Pastor John. The apprentices attend the seminars, read assigned material on the subject, and respond with a paper of varying length (sometimes as short as three pages, and on other occasions as long as ten pages).
I recently attended the seminar entitled Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting: The Pursuit of Communion with God. (All seminars are recorded and available for purchase from Desiring God ministries.) The assignment was this:
1. Read John Piper, A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer, Crossway Books, 1997. (My introduction.)
2. Imagine yourself as a new associate pastor in a church that has never fasted or thought about fasting. You and the lead pastor agree to have a week of fasting (one meal a day, two meals a day, all meals, whatever) to seek “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians. 3:19). He invites you to take ten minutes at the beginning of the service the Sunday before the week of fasting – only ten minutes! The aim of the message is to motivate the people to participate in a discipline and a pursuit that for most of them will be a first time experience. Write a paper that would be this ten-minute message.