Showing items filed under “The Rt. Rev. George Sumner”

Kinds of Prayer

main image

Traditionally, prayer has been subdivided into petition, thanksgiving, confession, and adoration. The wise and balanced prayer life would include all four, in whatever measure or style suits the person.
One way to think about them is to relate each back to our basic account of praying. Petition raises the question of whether or not our prayers are answered. We believe we are heard, and yet all things lie in God’s hands, where all ultimately works for good. So our petitions are offered in Christ’s one great intercession at the right hand of the Father, and are surrendered thereto. Adoration brings us back to the heart of the matter, acknowledging, enjoying, and celebrating that God is God. Thanksgiving recalls the first quality of Christian living, response to grace as a ‘sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.’ (BCP). Personal thanksgiving dovetails with our central corporate act, the Eucharist. Finally contrition reminds us that we do none of this on our own. For Bernard of Clairvaux ‘spirituality’ is effectively synonymous with contrition.

When do you engage in each? Which gets shortchanged?

Aids to Prayer

main image

The late Lutheran systematic theologian Robert Jenson was once asked what he, as a proponent of grace over works, thought of all the popular aids to prayer found in the burgeoning industry of spirituality (many from the more catholic side of the aisle): beads, icons, arrow prayers, repetition, silence, etc. He replied that he was for anything that helped to make him a better hearer of God’s Word. It is a great answer. He was at once open to many kinds of help - so long as all were understood only as means, and subordinated to the Word of God. There can be no technology of prayer. But we in our culture could use some quiet, some focus, some engagement of the senses, some accommodation to our personality type.

12345678910 ... 3839

Blog Home