Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Praying The {Fill in the Blank} Way

Monday, Jan in her blog, The View From Her posted on prayer. I told her how that brought back so many memories of all the goofy things I've heard people say over the years while talking to God.
There were the odd dinner time prayer phrases like, "we pray for the nourishing and strengthening of our bodies and us to Thy service," or "grant journey mercies." (Yet some of these same people thought "Now I lay me down to sleep" or "God is great, God is good..." were prayers of meaningless repetition.

In high school, I heard the daughter of a pastor pray, "Hey God it's me, [her nickname for herself]. How's it goin'?" The only problem with her informal prayer was that she didn't have much in the way of a relationship with Christ and was probably trying to tweak her listeners, including the One it was addressed to.

Last year, I blogged on the subject of prayer and included in the post a prayer that an Associate Pastor of ours prayed during a televised Thanksgiving service- "'Thy throne, Oh God is so great and powerful that should all the armies of the world should assail against Thee , Oh God, it should have as much effect as the faint mist on the distant Rock of Gilbraltar.' While the prayer was true, it did not reflect the way the man normally spoke or lived."

But I never really began analyzing prayers until I was involved in a nationally known student Christian campus group while I was in college. In our group, we had both brand new Christians and those who grew up in the church; there were liturigicals as well as charismatics. Each brought their own culturally-shaped style of conversing with God to the group. Favorites were the "just prayers" -"we just want to thank You", we just ask...". Sometimes these were modified by "really" - "we just really want to thank You." My pet peeve was the people who used Jesus' name as a punctuation mark - "we thank You Jesus for being here,Jesus and we ask You, Jesus that You'd be with Sally, Jesus." Yikes!

Unfortunately, there was also a great deal of unspoken pressure to tailor one's public prayers to style of the majority -those that didn't pray like the rest of us weren't asked to pray out loud again until their prayer style conformed. Some of it was far more subtle -you'd hear all the girls in a particular discipleship chain using the same tone and phrases.

For example, I was in an introductory Bible Study led by a young lady who had gone on a Summer Short Term Mission to South Carolina. She came back with a Southern drawl that surfaced when she prayed out loud (she was a SoCal native, not someone with any accent normally). Soon, all the women in her advanced Bible Study also developed drawls when they prayed as well as her phrases she had picked up in the Carolinas. (I won't even go into the strange mannerisms they began to adopt.) Lord knows what they would've adopted if she had gone to Africa or Asia.

My take on all this was that people have a tendency to be more concerned with what others think and pray for their approval, rather than actually praying to and conversing with God. I'm so glad that He is not impressed (or even repulsed) by our words or lack of words.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dating Jesus????

This was the title of an article posted on Christianity Today Online. Agnieszka Tennant, the author of this article, writes of the trend to take the "Jesus as the Bridegroom" too far. She tells of a popular book that speaks of women cooking dinner and setting the table for two - for the woman and her "date" Jesus. The rest of the article describes women who have taken their relationship with Christ to places that, at best, sound creepy.

I think it's great that someone would have an intense love for our Savior, but it is weird to turn that into a quasi-romantic "dating" relationship with Him.

I'd love to hear comments.