Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Praying Life - Being a Mature Christian by Learning Helplessness

Excerpt from Paul Miller's A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, pages 56-57:

"Suprisingly, mature Christians feel less mature on the inside. When they hear Jesus say, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), they nod in agreement. They reflect on all the things they've done without Jesus, which have become nothing. Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can't raise their kids. It's a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can't get inside their kids' hearts. That's why strong Christians pray more.

John of Landsburg, a sixteenth-century monk, summarized this well in his class A Letter from Jesus Christ. He imagined Jesus speaking personally to us:

I know those moods when you sit there utterly alone, pining, eaten up with unhappiness, in a pure state of grief. You don't move towards me but desparately
imagine that everything you have ever done has been utterly lost and forgotten. This near-despair and self-pity are actually a form of pride. What you think was a state of absolute security from which you've fallen was really trusting too much in your own strength and ability... what really ails you is that things simply haven't happened as you expected and wanted.

In fact, I don't want you to rely on your own strength and abilities and plan, but to distrust them and to distrust yourself and to trust me and no one and nothing else. As long as you rely entirely on yourself, you are bound to come to grief. You still have a most important lesson to learn: your own strength will no more help you to stand upright than propping yourself on a broken reed. You must not despair of me. You may hope and trust in me absolutely. My mercy is infinite."

Jesus isn't asking us to do anything he isn't already doing. He is inviting us into his life of helpless dependence on his heavenly Father. To become more like Jesus is to feel increasingly wary of your heart. Paradoxically, you get holier while you are feeling less holy. The very thing you were trying to escape -- your inability -- opens the door to prayer and then grace."

Amen!!

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