From the Anglican File

April 16, 2007, 3:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Mike J  | 2 Comments

“There is no greater argument in the world of our spiritual danger and unwillingness to religion, than the backwardness which most men have always, and all men have sometimes, to say their prayers — so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so witty to excuse and frustrate an opportunity: and yet all is nothing but a desiring of God to give us the greatest and the best things we can need, and which can make us happy — it is a work so easy, so honourable, and to so great purpose, that in all the instances of religion and providence (except only the incarnation of his Son) God hath not given us a greater argument of his willingness to have us saved, and of our unwillingness to accept it, his goodness and our gracelessness, his infinite condescension and our carelessness and folly, than by rewarding so easy a duty with so great blessings.”

Jeremy Taylor, a seventeenth-century Anglican priest, authored these words in The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living. Essentially, he holds that the most compelling argument that we are in spiritual danger is our desire not to pray.

Common sense would seem to dictate that if an easy behavior results in great reward, then people would perform that behavior at every opportunity. If, for instance, there were a “steak dinner” button on my computer, I’d be pushing it constantly — far more often than I should. Yet prayer — so easy a duty rewarded with such great blessings — often is neglected, in my life, and I’m sure in many of yours as well.

I cannot think of one solitary time — literally, not one time — in my life when I have prayed and regretted it. On rare occasions, God has answered my prayers in obvious and stunning ways. At other times, God has not changed the situation, but has radically changed me by shaping my heart. Never ever have I regretted it.

And yet it is still hard to get up the willpower to pray at times; still I go through dark stretches where I don’t want to pray at all, and more often than not I don’t. Though prayer has never disappointed me, I still am “witty to excuse it,” proud of my mental acuity in finding an excuse to “get me off the hook.”

The very fact that we want to “get off the hook” when it comes to prayer demonstrates our spiritual weakness. When my more liberal friends wonder why I am comparably conservative, this is often what I think about. I know our ability to convince ourselves that wrong is right and right wrong — and there is no more obvious example than our desire not to pray.


Comments

2 Comments to “From the Anglican File”

  1. Job Tate on April 17th, 2007 10:40 pm

    This had a profound impact on me, Mike…

  2. Mike on April 18th, 2007 10:01 am

    Thanks, Job–I’m glad!

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