A Prayer from Thomas Merton I Could Pray Everyday for Awhile

John Stackhouse draws attention to a prayer by Thomas Merton that combines the elements of the Lord’s Prayer and the Seven Deadly Sins. There is spiritual and psychological depth here. It is prayer based on knowing who God is combined with some knowledge of who we are. Some prayers I come across are not psychologically true to what it means to be human. They are simply pop theology that does not take the human condition very seriously. Some prayers are pop psychology with no serious theology. The simply immerse me in me – my wishes, my desires, the way I want things to be. Putting the two together has the ring of truth. See what you think.

 

Justify my soul, O God, but also from your fountains fill my will with fire. Shine in my mind, although perhaps this means “be darkness to my experience,” but occupy my heart with your tremendous life. Let my eyes see nothing in the world but your glory, and let my hands touch nothing that is not for your service. Let my tongue taste no bread that does not strengthen me to praise your great mercy. I will hear your voice and I will hear all harmonies you have created, singing your hymns. Sheep’s wool and cotton from the field shall warm me enough that I may live in your service; I will give the rest to your poor. Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving you glory.

Therefore keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the death of deadly sin which puts hell in my soul. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from the sins that eat a man’s flesh with irresistible fire until he is devoured. Keep me from loving money in which is hatred, from avarice and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Stanch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hunger that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy.

Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.

But give me the strength that waits upon you in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for you alone.

For there is only one thing that can satisfy love and rewarded, and that is you alone.

The Difference Between a Good Read and Good Literature–CS Lewis Offers an Insight

I am listening to King’s “The Shining” and Faulkner’s “Light in August” at the same time, both from Audible. The depth of “Light in August” is amazing by comparison. Of course, King wouldn’t pass off “Shining” as great literature but a good read. It is. In “Light of August” the characters stay with me. I think about them. I wonder about them. They make me think about me, who I am, what I do, what I would do. Faulkner makes me care about people and their stories, understand the messes, sympathize, see the forks in the road. I see life through their eyes. CS Lewis said that this is what great literature does. In one lifetime no on can experience enough of life. Literature brings more of life to me and helps me learn the lessons I don’t have enough time to learn on my own.

The Evangelical Church’s Silence on Divorce in the Church is Deafening

What could explain the virtual absence of the topic of divorce in the Evangelical church? We do know what explains it, don’t we?

I find it hard to deal with same sex marriage in the pulpit while the church is so careless about lifetime monogamy. In fact, I won’t preach on same sex marriage until the church will welcome an equal number of sermons on Christ’s forbidding of divorce. I’m not holding my breath!!

See Breakpoint Commentary, featuring Eric Metaxas.

Worshiping Grace without Worshiping Christ

For some time I have been concerned about Christless grace in the church. This is when grace replaces Christ or the belief that if we “do” grace then what we believe about Christ doctrinally or the loyalty we owe to him as a Person is less important. Churches end up no longer preaching Christ, the source of grace, but making their functional God mere acceptance of others. They end up worshiping grace, and that leads to dark places. John Piper expresses this phenomenon in other words in “The Failure of Christless Tenderness.”

In some version or other of this phenomenon churches make grace a higher principle than Christ himself. Christ serves only as the highest example of the lowest humility, and then he is dispensed with. This is what has happened in the liberal church in large measure. Christ is no longer Lord to whom is owed an obedience of moral purity. The whole of the Christian life is subsumed under the category of tolerance and affirmation, and the church is rendered incapable of thinking of Christ as one to whom we are morally accountable and for whose sake a life of purity is essential. As long as a supposed grace is being shown to others then we are fulfilling our Christian obligation.

This functional model is incapable of serious moral reflection. The moral edge is dulled and the prophetic ministry of the church evaporates. It ends up having nothing to say morally. And then we end up with the grotesque, to which Flannery O’Connor points. The church no longer has the capacity to inculcate a moral vision that befits the bride of Christ. That shipped sailed when the connection between grace and Christ himself as its source was cut. We took from Christ the capacity to be morally outraged.