Sunday, November 09, 2008

"Pious scholars are rare."

--Blaise Paschal

A reader commented on my blog,
I've discovered your blog only recently and to be honest, am not really sure how I got here. I don't know if you take questions but I was wondering about what you've been saying about your prayer life. I'm studying theology at the moment and in the classroom can be fired up by God, learning, drawing closer to Him, and then I get home and struggle to kneel beside my bed, let alone to pray. Do you think that it's somehow of God...? Is it just a discipline, a habit we need to force our body into...? How to change...?
If I knew the solution, or even where to begin, then instead of blogging I would have published three books about that subject by now. Prayer is a huge benefit when it comes. But the same "not-garden-variety-bad-work-habits" that interfere with my official duties also cripple my efforts in things like daily prayer and exercise.

But, wouldn't you know, thanks to your question I came across something deeply insightful. I Googled "Pious scholars are rare" to make sure I remembered the quote correctly, and found a link a page in this book. It is Making Sense of it All by Thomas V. Morris, published in 1992.

Dave [who asked the question], there's stuff in this book that might be good for both of us to read and to reflect on.


Matt of CG said...

I think it would be pretty easy for you to start praying while engaged in your daily hygiene ritual. That way, you don't feel as though there is a deprivation of concern or conflict of interest in your preparation for the day. Prayer can equal preparation in the morning and can be about appreciation before you go to bed at night. Start simple by thanking God for what you already have. Thanks for today's food, the running water, the electricity, the bed. Goodnight.

And after a while prayer becomes more attractive than the brushing of one's teeth. ;)

David said...

Thank you for the book review, and Matt, thanks for the practical suggestion. 'Pious scholars are rare': to be a scholar isn't difficult but when I think of scholars who have achieved much, they are pious and prayerful. It is only with the mind of Christ that we can grow in understanding and love. I'm constantly affected by this: the thought that I can do okay in terms of scholarship alone, but without God I'll never be able to achieve all that I could... .

I'm in the midst of writing a pastoral essay on 'discipling new Christians'. Reading Bonhoeffer's 'Cost of Discipleship' I'm trying to understand what it means to be a disciple and therefore what it means to disciple someone else. All I can come up with is that a disciple is a Christian and in one way the question fades away into nothingness: 'making new Christians Christian'. In another way, it brings it to the fore: to be a disciple is to understand exactly what it means to be a Christian.

Back to Bonhoeffer: 'only he who believes is obedient and only he who is obedient believes'. Maybe we just need to be obedient...?