I have frequently commented that Luther really didn't get rid of monasteries; his idea was to move the monastery into the home! I mean, he PREACHED at home, for heaven's sake. Not to mention hymns and prayers and Bible reading and such.
But it is true that most people are not called the monastic life and cannot actually pray the daily office, even in the sense of three offices of Matins, Vespers and Compline that comprise the heart of the office for Lutherans.
So what can a young person do who laments that they just don't know how to pray? I had this conversation last night. "But I always only think about myself. My prayers are so narcissistic."
My answer is: "take up the Treasury." A very simple discipline can be made of praying each day the Psalm (printed out for the day) and one of the Bible readings and the prayer for the day and then the prayer for the day of the week (pages 1306ff.) and wrap up with the Lord's Prayer. Simple, really. It does NOT need to be elaborate. It does need to be consistent, but even with when you fail to pray on a certain day, remember - as Pr. Kinnaman wrote so beautifully in the intro - that others of the Body of Christ are praying that day and you are not alone; you are joining a vast company who bear your weaknesses. Doing this much will keep you praying for all sorts and conditions of people, will draw you out of yourself into the Word and into the world as you bear the burdens of others. Yesterday was Wednesday, and I pointed out that by praying the week day prayers we remembered all those whose pilgrimages are coming to an end, and asked God's grace and mercy on them.
Making disciplined, daily prayer a part of one's life is a battle - and Satan wants nothing more than to see you go for days without being fortified by the Word or calling on God. Remember above all: the discipline of prayer is FOR YOUR BENEFIT. It doesn't make God love you any more than He already does (His fullness of love for you can never be diminished). He doesn't NEED your prayer; YOU need Him, and that's why you pray. He comes to you in His Word (and that's why praying the Psalm and the Bible reading are vital to the discipline). Treasury simply makes these much easier.
Too many start out trying to do too much in prayer. It's a formula for failure. Start out small, do so consistently, and it will grow. It can't not.
My two cents on the topic.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Good advice on prayer, and not just for teenagers
Pastor Will Weedon wrote a post on his blog entitled "Helping a Teen Ager Use the Treasury." His advice applies to people of all ages, not just teenagers. The Treasury of Daily Prayer is just that...a treasure chest full of scripture, song, and prayer to help guide us in our daily life of prayer and teaches us how to pray.