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I get myself in trouble by thinking about prayer

Arguments about whether prayer should be spontaneous or repeated are another reminder to me about how I’m always swinging between the conflicting impulses of the prodigal son (who, no doubt, prayed as he felt led) and his older brother (who, no doubt, read his prayers carefully and always at the same time).

I’ve been thinking lately about how much contemporary Christianity follows the Enlightenment pattern of externalizing knowledge. Instead of knowledge of things, we are expected to gain knowledge about things, as though our minds are calculators and not perceivers.

One manifestation of that is the reduction of the Word of God (the second person of the Holy Trinity) to the written text of the Bible, grammatically and rationally interpreted.

The Bible is not, however, merely the word about God. It is the recorded recollection of people who experienced, often “mystically,” the Living Word of God, who, as evangelicals have said for many years, can be invited to live within our hearts.

It seems to me that the fear of an undefined mysticism can become a fear of the living and active God Himself, and that not in the Biblical sense of the “fear of God.” Not all mysticisms are the same.

According to what is written, “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory” and you can “become partakers of the Divine Nature.” Why sell all that for merely agreeing with your denomination on what is correct doctrine?

Karl Barth said it beautifully in his Evangelical Theology when he said something like: the denominations are not end points, they are pointers to the experience of God (Sorry I can’t remember the exact words).

As an aside, but one that has long challenged me, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He said, “When you pray, say…”

Maybe the father, who goes out to both brothers, can reconcile all of this and all of us!

NB This post began as a reply to a blog by Rod Dreher. You can read it and the discussion that followed by following this link.

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