Monday, August 01, 2005

On the importance of prayer

Icon of Jesus Praying in Gethsemane*

I went to a Baptist High School. Being the only Lutheran in the place I always got weird looks when I pulled out my Small Catechism. The criticism that I always got was something along the lines of, "Why would you want to just memorize stuff? Your faith and prayers should come from your heart."

Upon entering the seminary I have been barraged by the need and critical function of daily prayer and devotion. I have long struggled with the "made up" prayers that I was taught to value so highly. I just couldn't do it and it made me feel terrible.

Then I rediscovered the treasury of prayers handed down from our fathers. David, Augustine, Paul, Peter, John Chrysostom, Luther, and other saints of the church are a valuable and deeply meaningful source of prayer.

Many of my Lutheran brothers will think I've lost it when I reveal my next step in my journey to reestablishing a more liturgical and historical prayer discipline. I set up a small "altar" (for lack of a better word) on one of my bookshelves. It is a wonderful thing to wake up every morning, rub the sleep out of my eyes and go to the Lord in prayer at a special place. It isn't for everyone and it certainly does not make me more holy or pleasing to God. Prayer never does that, on the contrary, regular prayer makes God more holy and pleasing and REAL in our lives. He doesn't need prayer to do this, but it is the means of communication He has set up for us.
Prayer is a gift. It is a blessing. It is renewing and centering and regular daily prayer in the morning, noon and before bed centers my thoughts on the Holy Trinity, the Great King of Heaven.

More to come on this and the importance and relevance of liturgical prayer.
The Lord be with you.
*I love the art of Orthodox Iconography-more on this subject and my feelings about the importance of reverent and meaningful ecclesiastical art later.

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