Good morning. It is Thursday, July 9, 2015. “Pre-Friday.”
Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is sobriquet. This is a noun, with a simple definition. It means, “a nickname.”
Today is Sugar Cookie Day. Now that sounds delicious!
Christi is feeling much better, at least stomach-wise, now. Her leg still hurts, but it is better, too. My day at work, yesterday, was pretty easy. We didn’t get very much in to receive, and were almost completely finished by 4:30. Probably the calm before the storm. 🙂 Business usually starts picking up around this time of year, for some reason.
Tonight is Christi’s Huddle night, and I plan on getting some trombone-playing in. I’ll just play some old music that I have collected over the years, since the band isn’t rehearsing this month. I’m looking forward to getting back into rehearsals in August.
But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
I have moved into the second part of Timothy Keller’s book. Part two is called “Understanding Prayer.” Chapter three is “What is Prayer?” This chapter gets into some history and statistics regarding the act of prayer.
We know, of course, that prayer is very central to the “great monotheistic religions” of the world; Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all focus on prayer. Muslims pray five times a day. Jews traditionally pray three times a day. While Christianity does not have set times (although you can find schedules of prayer in some of the more traditional denominations), it is still saturated with “various traditions of common prayer, private prayer, and pastoral prayer.”
But prayer is not found only in the monotheistic religions. “Buddhists use prayer wheels, which fling prayers for compassion into the atmosphere.” Hindus pray to a number of gods. Many Native American tribes pray through singing. “Their poetry and music serve as prayers that unite the spiritual and physical realm.”
“Prayer is one of the most common phenomena of human life.”
“Even deliberately nonreligious people pray at times.” Studies have shown that people without any religious preference practice prayer, at times, even those who claim no belief in God. Nearly 30 percent of atheists have admitted that they sometimes pray, while 17 percent “pray regularly.” This practice also seems to increase with age. An Italian scholar is quoted as saying, “In virtually all studies of the sociology of religious behavior it is clearly apparent that a very high percentage of people declare they pray every day–and many say even many times a day.”
Not everyone prays, though, and the trite phrase, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” is rightfully offensive to some. Nevertheless, prayer is a global phenomenon. Sociologists have been unable to find any culture, even in the most remote and isolated parts of the world, that does not have some kind of religion and prayer.
However, let us not be mistaken and think that this means all prayer is the same. “Prayer presents a dizzying variety to the eye of the observer. Just look at the religious trances of Native American shamanists; the chanting in Benedictine monasteries; devotees doing yoga in Manhattan offices; the hour-long pastoral prayers of the seventeenth century Puritan minsters; speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches; Muslims engaging in sujud, with forehead, hands, and knees on the ground toward Mecca; Hasidim swaying and bowing in prayer; and the Anglican priest reading from the Book of Common prayer.”
As the book progresses, Keller will discuss how all of these are different. I will confess that, on the first reading, this chapter was the most difficult to get through, as it is largely informational. I may choose to not include some of it in this blog. We shall see.
While there is not much devotional content in today’s reading, the important thing to note is that prayer is a common thing, world wide, even among people who have no strong religious beliefs. For those of us who do have strong beliefs in God, how much more should we be engaging in prayer?
Father, as I grow older, I find prayer to be more important in my life. I ask for your Spirit to be active in my life, continuing to draw me toward a more prayer-centered lifestyle. I currently struggle to stay focused for long periods of time, such as my morning drive to work. I do manage to accomplish what I might describe as “decent” prayer, but it could be so much more meaningful, I believe, if I could keep my mind focused on you. May your Spirit enable me to do that. Then, I pray that, throughout the day, my spirit would be drawn to constant prayer, either regarding current circumstances, or people that you would bring to my mind during the day. In short, I desire to accomplish what Paul tells us, “pray without ceasing.” May prayer be as important to me as breathing.
All of this, of course, requires that my thoughts and imagination be drawn away from things that either do not honor you, or attempt to take a place of higher importance. I pray that your Spirit inhabit my thoughts and mind, while inspiring my heart to deeper prayer.
I pray for this day, that our trip to work would be smooth and safe. May our work day be stress-free and productive. I pray for Christi’s leg to quit hurting, that your healing hand would be upon her today. I pray that you would show Stephanie your great love, and that you would strengthen Rachel to get through the last of her Master’s degree requirements. May you be constantly with my mother, allowing her to know your presence throughout the day, as I feel confident that she does.
Your grace is sufficient.
May we all recognize the importance of prayer in our lives, each day.
Grace and peace, friends.