Praying and Practicing the Faith

I continue to wonder what this whole faith thing is about and how it is we live it, how we "do" faith. 

I had a bit of a spiritual epiphany last March when I was knocked off my spiritual butt by this thought – what if God is, you know, real?  I mean, really real.  Real, here, now, alive, active, in my life, in my face real?  More than an enlightening tradition, more than poetry personified, more than figment of a collective imagination, more than a theo-philosophy meriting my intellectual assent – what if God is really freaking real?  What does this mean for my life, for the way I live and express and nurture my faith?  I wrote about this epiphany – and some of the questions that accompanied this epiphany – in this post: Believing in Something Real.

This epiphany altered my spiritual path in a helpful yet troubling way, and I’m still somewhere along that altered path.  Recently along that path I found two webpostings that inspire in me more questions about the nature of faith in God.  The first is "Why Didn’t You and I Ever Pray Together?" on the blog of Mark Daniels, a veteran ELCA pastor in Ohio (a must-read blog that you should stick in your feedreader right now).  In this post he talks of the power and nature of prayer, and of being confronted by his longtime hair stylist for never praying with her.  This got me reflecting on my own practice of prayer, asking myself why I don’t pray with friends or family . . .

And then, thanks to Lee, I saw the article Spiritual Reinvention and the Andrew Greeley Principle by David Miller in this month’s Journal of Lutheran Ethics.  I’m not sure if he could have come up with a worse title, but the article is amazing.  In it he describes and laments the church’s loss of personal faith practices.  He tells of five bishops meeting with seminarians and, when asked about personal spiritual practices, the bishops all but say to the students, "Uh, we don’t do that."  Miller makes the case for the renewal of spiritual practices in our congregations, but warns that it will be a difficult road ahead of us.

And so I’m thinking about prayer and the practice of faith . . . things that many of us – including church leader types – don’t do much of.  Whether for us church has become about management or family systems or liberal social justice or community, I wonder if sometimes we – and I should implicate myself in this – I wonder if sometimes I really believe in a God worth praying to, worth meditating on, worth devoting myself to.  And so, as I’m apt to do in situations such as this, I’ll quote Luther here:

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy, and kept me in true faith . . .

To which all I can do is cry out, Come, Holy Spirit.  Continue to call me, enlighten me with your gifts, make me holy, keep me in true faith.  Amen.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

3 thoughts on “Praying and Practicing the Faith

  1. the senior pastor at my church is kind of an … um… atheist, so I get your drift.
    and I don’t mean that he is irreverent or anything.
    and he believes in Jesus.
    but he doesn’t think God is real.
    the universe really IS random.

  2. Chris, the Journal of Lutheran Ethics article was sobering and yet gives me hope for our church and seminaries: there are those that “get it.” We have some wonderful, deeply spiritual people in the pews, in the seminaries as students and in positions of leadership. Thank you so much for the link to that article.
    May God bless and keep you in his care.

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