Does A Book On Prayer Become Outdated?
About 25 years ago I compiled a book called Praying: One Day At A Time to bring prayer into greater focus in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. It was used for personal and small group purposes to help teach people to pray. When I recently mentioned to a friend that it is now outdated, she said: “How can a book on prayer become outdated?” What a great question for contemplation. In my reflections this morning, this is what I’ve come up with.
When I compiled my book 26-27 years ago, there was very little available to creatively engage people to do spiritual practices that actually got them praying. Most books on prayer were full of prayers that other people had written. My humble attempt was to teach people methods to help them learn how to pray, using a variety of methods that I could find at the time. Since then, the whole area of spirituality has flourished into hundreds, maybe even thousands of books with creative ideas on spiritual practices and prayer. Every day I am learning new ways of experiencing God through ideas that come over the internet, through books, even Oprah is on to soul work! There are new forms of worship, new hymnals and songs, and new Bible translations coming forth. Although some may still have a personal preference for the old hymns and the King James Version of the Bible, we also need to recognize there is a shift happening in how people are experiencing God in today’s world.
The focus of ministry has moved further away from an emphasis on sin and a God of judgment to a God of love, forgiveness and grace ~ a God who is for us, with us, in us, as us ~ a God who has both masculine and feminine qualities. Scientists have recognized the element of the sacred in all of creation, and we see the Universe Story
honoring the ancient sacred teachings that we are ALL ONE. Social activists have now become sacred activists as we recognize humanity’s role to be co-creators with God to care for one another and for all of creation.
We are at a most exciting time in human history when more and more people are waking up to the realization that our faith isn’t just something nice to have around to make us feel good, while we go on ignoring others in need. Our faith is lived out in action with God and one another as we LIVE AS LOVE in the world. And this love includes radical changes that are necessary to preserve and protect the earth for future generations. This requires major changes in our North American life-style of over-consumption and greed. Our purpose is not to acquire more things. Our purpose is to love more fully as Jesus exemplified.
Many are coming to understand the teachings ~ the message of Jesus at a much deeper level . . . that he is actually calling us to be as Christ in the world. You may say: “But this is nothing new, Anna Lin.” And in a sense, that is true. What is new is that we must heed this teaching, this path of Christ, like never before in history if we are to survive as human beings on the planet earth.
So I would like today’s books on prayer to reflect these ways of seeing our purpose and relationship with God as a calling to be followers of the Christ Path. What I have written here is just a glimpse of that purpose and calling. I will be spending the rest of my days rewriting and updating my book on prayer. May our lives be the prayers of our heart lived out in action in the world. And so it is ~ and so it shall be.