I'm figuring out that my experiment for this year is perfect for people, like me, who are utter spiritual weaklings. I'm convinced that way that we often talk about the things we can do to arrange our lives as disciples of Jesus is completely upside-down. We say things like, "This is for those of you who really want to go deeper," giving the impression that a life of discipleship is for people who want to go above and beyond everyone else in churchy things. We frame it as if this kind of life is for spiritual honor students, or for those of us who are really interested in "that kind of thing." Thinking of a lifestyle of discipleship like that is erroneous and harmful, like flying upside-down in an airplane: It may seem fine for a moment, but if we are unaware of it, it won't work for long and some serious damage is coming our way. I'm finding this year's experiment in living prayerfully to be helpful, not because I'm advanced, but because of the opposite: I'm such a spiritual weakling that I can't make it through a single day of living in connection with God without building these re-connections with God into the routine of my regular days. Instead of thinking of this way of praying as being for the equivalent of the olympic long-distance runner, it's more accurate to think of it as being perfectly suited for the equivalent of the preschooler who can't keep their mind on one thing long enough to be able to put on their own pants. I want to live my life as God's friend, and I simply can't get anywhere in my attempts to do so without putting this kind of method into the way I live and having others join in to help me lurch along in these bumbling, blundering, lumbering attempts to follow Jesus.
James Bryan Smith writes about this in The Good and Beautiful Life:
I don't do these things because I want God to love me and bless me, nor to avoid punishment or impress people with my piety. I do all of this to keep the fire burning. I do them because I am spiritually weak. I cannot maintain an effective and joyful Christian life without these activities. I also need weekly times of worship fellowship and host of other disciplines to nourish my soul. When I neglect these things, my soul atrophies. I simply know of no other way to be an apprentice of Jesus.
Something I've prayed this week:
Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper! (Psalm 30:10)
[This is the 25th post from A Year of Living Prayerfully]