Simple Prayer: Monotonous or Savored?

20170124_103703Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

6  An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. 7  Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. 8  In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. 9  They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. 10  Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons.      1 Timothy 3:6-10 (NLT)

825    Persevere in the exact fulfillment of the obligations of the moment. That work—humble, monotonous, small—is prayer expressed in action, which prepares you to receive the grace of that other work—great and broad and deep—of which you dream. (1)

Not being a fan of monotony, I struggle with what St Josemaria calls the “obligations of the moment”.  Those tasks that are the adult equivalent of a third graders math homework, doing 50 or 60 problems to learn the present lesson.  Give me the process, let me try it, (as opposed to it trying me) and let me move on!

It’s taken a long time to learn the difference between vain and repetitious and beneficial and repetitious. I always thought repetition was vain.

Such an attitude made prayer a challenge.  Because it seems repetitious to offer the same prayers, to ask God to intercede with the same names, day after day week after week.  Can’t I just entrust the person once to God and then move on to the next person in crisis?

And the Lord’s prayer, let me turn it into an outline, let me use it as a guide, let me find something to do to make it more special, more pious, more holy.  What good is it if I simply pray it in a rote manner, time after time?  ( never mind that rosary!  Even if Luther used it, how monotonous is that!)

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that repetition and vanity are not synonyms.  That those names I gave to God yesterday, I became anxious about, that the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart are so broken that my words fail me.  That is when the words of the Lord’s prayer become my life preserver, tossed to me so that I can still use the Lord’s name in a way that is not vain.  So that I can use them to call out to Him and ask Him to revealed His comfort, His love, His mercy.

When all other words seem beyond my ability to form, His words, given to me for such times, becomes words I savor, that become more than beneficial, that become precious.  I realize that as they are answered, they express His plan, they reveal His desire.  This brings him delight, as I call out to Him, trusting him to fulfill what He’s promised.  They are what I need in that moment, not just because I am obligated to pray, but because they remind me of His obligation as my Lord, as My Savior,  as my God.

Then, at peace, I might find the strength for something else,  the ministry of which I have dreamed, the works that will be exciting, but no more glorious than simply knowing He is here, listening, comforting, sustaining, loving me!  This is the nature of our faith being tested, of becoming mature enough to realize that we start and end, and live conversing with God. 

Even if things are of what I’ve dreamed, those simple words, no longer monotonous, are precious, and savored.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is, in heaven!  Give us this day our daily bread!  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not to temptations, but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and glory, for ever and ever, Amen!


(1)  Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1893-1895). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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 24, 2017, in Devotions, Poiema, The Way and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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