Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Bloom is off the Prayer

Many of the people who speak with me about their "Spiritual Life", complain that they are suffering from a lack of theological excitement; that there is nothing new in their Spiritual walk; that there is nothing fresh in their faith.  One man recently said, "I have no more mountain in my top."  My recent conversations have led to an increasing sense that people are looking for "highs" in faith that may not, in fact, exist.  Maybe they need to be more in touch with the "lows".

Recently, I have been reading about the life of Martin Luther (originally Luder).  The primary driving dynamic in Luther's life was a fear of God - more specifically that God would condemn him to hell.  While this daily and perpetual fear of damnation may seem strange to us in our modern world, Luther was plagued by such thoughts.  Luther lived every day of his life with a petrifying fear of being condemned by God - even though he was a relatively holy person.  In order to minimize his chances of being sent to a fiery eternity, he spent every moment of his life in worship, prayer, meditation, penitence.   Luther would literally spend hours in confession with a fellow priest, confessing every tiny confession of his day ("Dear Lord, I did not remember to pray before breakfast...and when I did pray, it wasn't in total adoration..."). In response, Luther's confessor would tell him to "lighten up"  - that his confessions were not real confessions and that he had, in fact, done nothing really wrong.

The juxtaposition between the recent connections I have had of people who feel no loftiness in their Spiritual Life and the depth of despair that Luther felt and which drove him into deep prayer, made me begin to think that the primary problem with modern Christ followers is not that they are not in touch with the "highs" of faith, but that they are not in touch enough with the "lows" of faith.  Maybe what is needed for people is a fair and healthier measure of fear.  Soren Kierkegaard wrote a book called, "Fear and Trembling."

If we were to be more in touch with the fears of our faith perhaps the "Bloom would be off the Prayer" but our prayers would be more real...and maybe our highs would feel more "high".

All for Now,

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