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March 30, 2007

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Oh, brother. I love Luther's "Simple Method..." So many brothers and sisters make the complaint, and I am sympathetic, that they have no idea how to spend any significant time in prayer. No longer. It can also be purchased as an attractive, small hardback book. With all of Luther's depth, this may be his most helpful contribution to the church. For what was his name? Peter? His "master barber." Someone had to keep those monkish locks in shape.

Sometimes I ponder about things we ask God to do which He has already asked us to do or that He has promised.
We have been through courses on prayer which are topical and read into the New Testament.
One needs to revisit Jesus' teaching on how to pray and do an exposition on this.
One thing Jesus spoke much of was "hypocrisy" in praying.

That is definitely going to be helpful to me. Thank you for posting this. Good stuff.

Prayer can be a serious obstacle. Just consider what C.S. Lewis writes about his experience with prayer in his book "Surprised by Joy." It turned out to be one of the things which made him drift to atheism when he was young.

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One reason when the enemy found this so easy it was that, without knowing it, I was already desperately anxious to get rid of my religion; and that for a reason worth recording. By sheer mistake – and I still believe it to have been an honest mistake – in spiritual technique I had rendered my private practice of that religion he quite intolerable burden. It came about in this way. Like everyone else, I had been told as a child that one must not only say once prayers, but think about what one was saying. But soon the false conscience (St. Paul's "Law," Herbert's "prattler") came into play. One had no sooner reached "Amen" then it whispered, "Yes. But are you sure you were really thinking about what you said?"; then, more subtly, "Were you, for example, thinking about it as well as you did last night?" The answer, for reasons I did not then understand, was nearly always No. "Very well," said the voice, "hadn't you, then, better try it over again?" And one obeyed; but of course, with no assurance that the second attempt would be any better.
......

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There is more. Check it out.

Can anyone tell me about the Herbert mentioned in the excerpt?

Just off the cuff, I'd guess he's referring to the poet George Herbert. Herbert is an amazing Christian poet. Look for "The Temple" online. It is a collection of religious poems, I believe. I've only read some of them.

OK, I looked it up right quick. Here's the poem.

¶ Conscience.

PEace pratler, do not lowre:
Not a fair look, but thou dost call it foul:
Not a sweet dish, but thou dost call it sowre:
Musick to thee doth howl.
By listning to thy chatting fears
I have both lost mine eyes and eares.

Pratler, no more, I say:
My thoughts must work, but like a noiselesse sphere;
Harmonious peace must rock them all the day:
No room for pratlers there.
If thou persistest, I will tell thee,
That I have physick1 to expell thee.

And the receit2 shall be
My Saviours bloud: when ever at his board
I do but taste it, straight it cleanseth me,
And leaves thee not a word;
No, not a tooth or nail to scratch,
And at my actions carp, or catch.

Yet if thou talkest still,
Besides my physick, know there’s some for thee:
Some wood and nails to make a staffe or bill3
For those that trouble me:
The bloudie crosse of my deare Lord
Is both my physick and my sword.


And, it seems that the "prattler", specifically a sour prattler, would be a guilty conscience.

OK, now that practically no one will catch this: I had to look a bit, but I found an online posting of Luther's Simple Method of Prayer. Please do read it.

http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/ASIMPLEWAYTOPRAY.html

Just found this little piece on prayer that helped me a lot! Thought I would share.

http://www.helium.com/tm/569381

Merle,

Thanks for posting the link to the whole of Luther's writing on this. I had it in a book but not online. I searched a bit...but was coming up empty. Here's the link again:
http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/ASIMPLEWAYTOPRAY.html

Thanks for your post. Just one small thing, when you said "Luther didn't suggest repeating the Lord's Prayer," I assume you mean not repeating it after saying it once. Doesn't Luther say in the second paragraph on praying the Lord's Prayer "I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: Our Father who art, etc., through the whole prayer, word for word?"

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