The Loudmouth Protestant

March 20, 2009

Information Age Prayer

information-age-prayer

Really? What will they come up with next? Information Age Prayer allows you to pay for a computer to say prayers for you. The site touts this as the perfect solution for people who are too busy to say prayers for themselves. Perfect examples:

  • Are you forgetful? Subscribe and the computer will never forget to voice your prayers each day. Choose a religion on the left to see available prayers.
     
  • Do you work the late shift? Can’t make it to morning prayer? You can still get the feeling of having your prayers said on time by signing up for the Catholic Morning Prayer, Protestant Morning Prayer, Muslim Fajr Salat or the Jewish Morning and Evening Shema.

As well intentioned as I hope this is, the concept scares me. Scares me because I can’t believe we’d ever get to a place where we would pay a company, actually , pay a company that tasks a computer, a device without a heart and a spirit to do a job that we need to be so set on doing ourselves. I don’t know the efficacy of this. I might be shocked to find that people will receive breakthrough by paying for this service because it ensures they never miss a prayer. But prayer is not a thing to be checked off on your spiritual “to do” list. And prayer is also not a matter of convenience.

Truth be told, prayer is not convenient at all. I’ll be transparent enough to say that there are times when I want to go straight to bed rather then pray. Or I want to sleep a few more minutes rather than pray. But, I acknowledge that the God who woke me up is deserving of hearing my voice, feeling my heart and connecting with my spirit. The God who kept me through dangers seen and unseen is worthy enough for me to be inconvenienced and put aside and hid behind his cross to seek His face in prayer.

Another fact about prayer–that a friend brought up–it is not about words. It’s about a posture. You can “talk” to God at any point in the day. You don’t have to wait until you get home, wait until you wake up, wait until you get to your closet, ask a friend to do it for you, etc. You can pray with your heart. Pray as you walk down the street. Pray in your speech to another. Prayer is movement all about you, if you let it be. And lest I be remiss, when we can’t pray or think up the words to say, he already told us he’d fill in the gap:

Romans 8:26 (The Message)

 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

I know prayer is tricky. I struggle with it. But it is only through taking the limits off of what we think we know about the spiritual practice that we can truly experience breakthrough. So let’s stop relying on legalism, compulsion, jacked-up definitions and methods to get us through the practice–it’s not about getting through a practice but getting to God. Instead, let’s go straight to the source with our broken and contrite hearts ready to admit, we can’t do this alone, we can only do it through you. You give us the words you want us to say. Holy Spirit, speak.

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January 3, 2008

The First Confirmation of 2008

As I was in Watchnight on New Year’s Eve amongst the saints and in the midst of praise and worship, a voice–presumably God’s–told me that this was the year that I needed to embark on a journey to find my authentic spirituality. Lately I have been feeling a tug to explore it and this is why I’ve been looking to contemplative practice, Daily Offices, lectio divina and other spiritual practices to find my authentic spirituality and a deeper connection with God. This search for my personal spirituality will also include attending different churches. So that those that know me don’t think I am jumping ship I am keeping my home church, but I am also going visit other churches to fellowship with the greater body of Christ that I have been ignoring. I am personally tired of segregating myself and exhausted with not necessarily feeling like I own my Sunday experience the way I should.

I received confirmation about this by way of the first book that I am reading in 2008 entitled “Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants.” The author Dennis Okholm has this to say about Protestants learning to fellowship and worship with the different denominations of Christianity:

“…a healthy ecclesiology demands that Protestants learn from their Benedictine brothers and sisters. In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul prays that his readers will come to know the dimensions of God’s reality “with all the saints.” This was emphasized at my ordination, as I was charged with appreciating the various traditions out of which I had come (Pentecostal and Baptist) along with the one into which I had entered (Presbyterian). Little did I know at that time that this would eventually also include Roman Catholic Benedictines. But it makes sense given the strong emphasis on eschatology (the study of “last things”) in evangelicalism: one day we will gather at the eschatological banquet, surrounded not only by God’s chosen from every nation but also by his chosen from every branch of Christianity.

…Like little children in high society who take classes from Miss Manners so that they will be ready to conduct themselves appropriately at formal dinners, we Christians might as well practice rubbing shoulders with those who will share the table at the great banquet feast of the lamb.”

September 10, 2007

Spiritual Accounting

Filed under: christianity,christians,God,Judaism,religion,spiritual practices — nickisym @ 10:29 pm

Those of you that know me, know that I am fascinated by the Jewish faith. One could say that I am totally in love with the “chosen people” as I will wave at them as they hang outside their synagogues on the parkway and mouth greetings to them as they flag down cars late at night in Williamburg. Because of this love I am always studying their ways.

Most recently my interest has landed on the high holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is during this time that Jewish observants take a relfective look at their lives during the year particularly the portion of their lives which involves acknowledging the manifold sins which they have committed.

This period of reflection is called “spiritual accounting” which also takes into consideration the things that they can do to make the new year better. I fully appreciate the idea of taking spiritual accounting before the completion of a year to measure where you are and where you want to go in the following year. The Torah Learning Center proposed a few questions for Jewish people to consider in their prepartion for Rosh Hashanah. I am posting a few of the ones that stuck out to me that I definitely think will edify many–Jew, Gentiles and Christians alike. Start accounting, now:

Relationships: Am I spending enough quality time with people I care about? Am I showing proper patience, compassion and respect toward co-workers, friends and strangers? Do I listen attentively to others?

Spirituality: Do I pray with concentration and understanding? Do I realize that G-d is the source of all life, including the challenges as well?

Character development: Am I aware of times when I am arrogant, sarcastic or critical? Do I appreciate the pleasure of all that I have–both materially and spiritually? Am I careful not to waste precious time?

Career: Have I created a work environment free of jealousy, gossip, and immodest behavior?

Cheshbon: Have I clearly established short-term and long-term goal? Are my actions helping leading to those goals? Do I have a workable system monitoring my progress?

See more after this jump.

I fully intend to blend this practice into my own quiet time leading up to our secular New Year and throughout the year because it’s never too late to change course.

Thanks Torah Learning Center

G-d Bless

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