Which Is a Greater Priority in Life? Prayer or Theology?


Devotional Thought of the Day?
18  Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. 19  And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret.
Ephesians 6:18-19 (TEV)

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi – As we pray/worship so we believe, so we live.

16 Ultimately, if we should list as sacraments all the things that have God’s command and a promise added to them, then why not prayer, which can most truly be called a sacrament? It has both the command of God and many promises. If it were placed among the sacraments and thus given, so to speak, a more exalted position, this would move men to pray.

447         You lack interior life: that is because you do not consider in your prayer other people’s concerns and proselytism; because you do not make an effort to see things clearly, to make definite resolutions and fulfil them; because you do not have a supernatural outlook in your study, in your work, in your conversations, and your dealings with others… Are you living in the presence of God? For that is a consequence and a manifestation of your prayer.

The Church has brought about the emancipation of simple souls and has promised even to them the ability to be philosophers in the true sense of the word, that is, to comprehend what is essential to human nature as well as, or even better than, those who are learned.  (a few sentences later)  But how can this teaching of the Church be binding if it is not binding on theologians? The essence of the Church’s teaching ministry consists precisely in the fact that the proclamation of the Faith is the valid touchstone for theology as well. This proclamation is the object of the reflection of theology. The faith of simple souls is far from being a kind of watered-down theology for the laity, a so-called “popular Platonism”; the relationship is exactly the opposite: proclamation is the standard for theology, not theology for proclamation

Back in the days of taking algebra and geometry, my instructors would get upset at me because I didn’t include every step as I solved a problem  I would get the answer correct, but the missing steps, things I assumed everyone knew, were missing.  My attitude was that they didn’t matter.  I would eventually find out it they did……

I think the church, especially those who preach, teach and blog are guilty of the same thing.  We love to come across as profound in out theology.  We love to say why this piece of arcane theology is far more accurate than that, or why this practice will lead to a slippery slope, where those doing or thinking this will become heterodox, then heretical, and then bound for hell.   Well, we might leave that last part out.

There is another group that is strongly opposed to theological teaching, whose modern creeds are, “Love your Jesus, hate your religion” or “Relationship not Religious rules”.  They are no different that those two hundred years ago cried out “no creed but Christ”.

They are the simply souls who know there is something missing in our theological proofs.  Who realize the dissonance, that there is a weak point in our equation.  They might not be able to put a finger on it, but they realize what we believe is not impacting how we live.
Think about how many blogs, sermons, Sunday school classes urge us to pray, that teach us how to enter into conversation, either publicly or individually with God?  Sure you can find blogs about worship, usually to the extent of “those guys don’t do it right”, but how many help you connect to the awe of realizing you are in the presence of God?

The Lutheran Confessions almost seem snarky when talking about calling prayer a sacrament because then we might take this encounter with God more seriously.  St Josemaria talks of living in God’s presence is a consequence and manifestation of our prayer, simply because you have to know He is here to talk to Him.  Pope Benedict, then a cardinal, talks of those freed form sin and their simple faith, which is greater than the deepest of theology.  (read Augustine’s Confessions and you will eventually find that are the end of his journey)

The missing part of our sermon/blog equation is the starting place.  The time spent pouring our heart out to God and letting His comfort and presence bring us hope.  It is what will form the basis of our theology, of our teaching, of that which we write and blog.  And that is what makes our life, this realization that we dwell in the very presence of God, in His holiness, in His glory. That we can give Him every burden, every anxiety, as He draws us to Himself, as He cleanses, heals, and makes of our lives, our souls, something incredible.

Prayer and worship cannot exist without faith, not just the faith described in theological tomes and creeds, but the dependence, the trust in God to give us what He promises.

To understand that God is here, for you, drawing you into His love. Theology might teach about it, prayer, worship, the sacraments are all experiencing it.   Theology tells us what is happening to us, if it is based in prayer.  Otherwise, you never get past it to living out that life in Christ.

Spend time in prayer, spend time listening and pouring out your hearts and souls to God, who loves you enough to give you His name to call upon. Who wants to walk with us, live with us, rejoice and cry with us.

Don’t skip by prayer to get to your theology, it is not just a requirement, it is what the theology needs to discuss!  For it is life.

Lord have mercy on us!

 

 

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 213). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1981-1985). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 40). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 30, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, st josemaria escriva, The Furrow and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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