Praying the Catechism

Many Christians have problems praying.  Our minds wander; we run through our wants and needs; we forget what to pray for; and we soon turn to something else.

Christians in the past, though, often prayed “with” a text that would direct, inspire, and be a catalyst for their prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer was not just repeated verbatim, though that was part of it.  Each petition of the prayer sparked personal prayer–how can I do God’s will?  What “daily bread” do I need?  What temptations do I need to be delivered from?

Scriptures such as the Ten Commandments would also be prayed.  Luther suggested finding in each commandment, an instruction (“I must honor my father and my mother”), a thanksgiving (“Thank you, God, for giving me my parents”), a confession (“I have been neglecting my mother”), and a petition (“Lord, help my parents with their health and money problems. . . .”).

Luther also advocated praying the Creed, and in doing so, addressing the Triune God and receiving His promises of grace.

The Catechism itself is not just an educational handbook for the instruction of children.  Rather, it is an inexhaustible source book for prayer, meditation, and the richest, deepest devotions.

John Pless unpacks all of this in his book Praying the Catechism. [Read more…]

Who will pray at Trump’s inauguration

Defense.gov_photo_essay_090111-F-3961R-041The six religious leaders  who will offer prayers at Donald Trump’s inauguration have been announced.

They include three Pentecostals:  Paula White, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, and Samuel Rodriguez.  White and Jackson, a black megachurch pastor, are prominent preachers of the “prosperity Gospel.’  (See our earlier post on White.)  Rodriguez is a Hispanic Assemblies of God minister also preaches a perhaps less extreme version of  the prosperity gospel.

The others are Franklin Graham, whose father Billy now in frail health has been a fixture at presidential inaugurations of all parties; New York catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan; and Marvin Hier, a prominent Jewish rabbi.

There are no mainline Protestants.  Graham is the only classical evangelical.  No Lutherans, of course.

In the story excerpted after the jump, I was struck by the writer’s point about why prosperity gospelers are so attracted to Trump, and vice-versa.  Bishop White says flatly that Trump’s wealth is a sign that he is “blessed by God.”  “Not surprisingly,” says the writer, “Donald Trump is drawn to those preachers who say that one’s wealth is a sign of God’s approval.” [Read more…]

Problems praying? Pray the Psalms

Continuing our reflections on the Psalms, Pastor Peters at Pastoral Meanderings has a great post on praying the Psalms.  He shows the centrality of the Psalms for Luther and then makes a superb application:  “If you are having problems praying and know that you should be praying more, try the pattern of reading a Psalm each day, reflecting upon its words, and then praying that Psalm as your daily prayer.”   [Read more…]

Prayer shaming while praying to the government

When a tragedy strikes, it seems natural for those affected to ask for people’s prayers and for those concerned to pray for the victims.  This held true with the recent shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernadino.  But this time, multiple pundits and media figures mocked those who were praying.  Prayer won’t solve the problem, went the theme, gun control will!

Lutheran journalist Mollie Hemingway has written a piece about this that you need to read all the way through.  She cites the various commentators and publications that indulged in this “prayer shaming.”  She then showed how they too are praying with unquestioning faith to their omnipotent deity–the federal government!  She concludes with an excellent discussion of what Christian prayer is and why it is important.  I’ll quote the first few paragraphs after the jump, but then click the link to read the whole thing. [Read more…]

Banning the Lord’s Prayer video

This video was made by the Church of England to help publicize a new prayer website. A cinema advertising firm was paid to show it as one of those advertisements that run before the previews. But then the advertising company banned the video on the grounds that it might offend some people.

Interestingly, though, the British public is now up in arms over the decision. Not just church leaders, but the Prime Minister, politicians of all parties, and representatives of those expected to be offended, including Muslims and atheists. Even the new atheist author Richard Dawkins is speaking out against the ban.

But enjoy the video for its own sake and as a Thanksgiving prayer.

 

[Read more…]

The unchurched and non-religious still pray

Church attendance and other marks of religious observance are in decline, but a new study has found that people–including the non-religious–are still praying.  In fact, 57% of Americans say they pray every day, and 75% pray once a week or more.  This would seem to indicate a shift away from corporate religion to privatized religion.  See details after the jump.

Question:  From a Christian perspective, is the persistence of prayer, even as church attendance declines, a good thing, in the sense of better than nothing, or a sign of spiritual sensibility despite it all?  Or, as Joe Carter argues, is it a bad thing? [Read more…]