Friday, October 7

This fall our staff is reading John Ortberg's book, The Life You've Always Wanted. It's a book on spiritual disciplines. It's not quite up to the standard of some of the "classics" on the topic, such as Foster's Celebration of Discipline or Willard's Spirit of the Disciplines, but it is a good, easy to read, and practical book on the topic.
This week we are reading the chapter on prayer. (Interesting parenthetical note: A couple of us have older editions of the book and the rest have a newer addition. Our older editions didn't have a chapter on prayer! How can you have a book on spiritual disciplines and not have a chapter of prayer??? I guess Ortberg caught the irony of that and included a chapter in later editions. They photocopied it for me.) Anyway ...

This week we are reading the chapter on prayer. Of all the spiritual disciplines, this is the one with which I seem to fight the hardest. It is much easier for me to spend time reading the Bible or memorizing Scripture than it is to give regular, focused time to prayer. A couple of things that Ortberg mentioned are giving me a lot to think about. (Maybe I should be writing this in the second-person, so it is about "us" and not about "me". That would make me sound better. Oh well, I've already started ...) Both are actually quotes from Dallas Willard:

"The idea that everything would happen exactly as it does regardless of whether we pray or not is a specter that haunts the minds of many who sincerely profess belief in God. It makes prayer psychologically impossible, replacing it with dead ritual at best."

Am I convinced that prayer actually changes things? If I am, then it follows that I would find it easier to be more actively engaged in it!

The second is that prayer is "talking with God about what we are doing together." Could it be that I often don't see life as something that God and I are doing together, but more as something that I do and, occasionally, let God be a part of? If I lived with the concept that life is something that God and I are doing together, then following Paul's command to "pray without ceasing" would be much easier.

Thomas Merton once wrote: "We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners all our life!"

The longer I'm a Christian, the more I can see the truth in that statement.

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