Fine Print

In an earlier essay (in this series) I avoided being too specific about the possible shape and form an End Times' house of prayer might take.  I did this out of respect for the Holy Spirit, and in deference to John 16.12-13.
"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
But I now feel I want to press some practicalities, beyond what I might ordinarily consider seemly.  To what end?  Well, while I would not want my being too specific to become an obstacle to your vocation or mission...neither would I want to fail you by being vague or obscure.
Looking back over the whole, vast sweep of Church-contemplative History, I especially note the following:
(1)   In some way, shape or form the Psalms have always formed the heart and kernel of any prayer house's times of praying.  There have been, are today and I'm sure will be in the future, as many different ways of praying (reciting, chanting, singing?) the Psalms  -  the Temple's hymn book  -  as there are different prayer communities.
The Psalms are indubitably God-breathed prayers, being as they are a part of His "inspired" Scriptures...to which all lovers of God in every place and at all times can wholeheartedly and without any hesitation whatsoever, add their voices and their "Amen"!  They are not only God-framed prayers by which we approach and speak to Him.  Through them, He simultaneously communicates with us.  As the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius taught in the 4th C, "I think the Psalms are like a mirror, in which one can see oneself and the movements of one's own heart." (Jas 1.23-24)
The centrality of the Psalms to the contemplative tradition throughout history, also addresses a particular and peculiar item of "weirdness" in modern Christianity.  It is the idea that extempore and so-called "free" prayer and preaching is always and somehow or other automatically more inspired and therefore superior to what has been prepared beforehand...with study, meditation and supplication?  (This is really the same as saying that jazz is always a superior form of music, when compared with Beethoven or Bach's!)

I think that usually the best that can be said for such a view and the resulting praying and preaching, is that it is indeed unprepared...and all too often ill-prepared.  The worst that can be said, is that it is championed and brought forth by Christians who see themselves above the "common herd"; entitled to some kind of short-cut and dispensation from prayerful study and studious prayer.  One of the mightiest extempore preachers to date, was the incendiary Anglican of the 1st Great Awakening, George Whitefield (1714-70), England).

Previous page Next page

1 2 3 4 5