Sunday, June 15, 2008

Repetitive Prayer

In some faith traditions, repetitive prayer is looked down upon. I think this is a shame. To be sure, familiarity can breed contempt; but I know the benefits of having useful words memorized and readily available.

A prayer by Mother Teresa lifted me yesterday. I heard from a friend some unsupportive remarks that another friend had made about me. Some points of my theology have been troublesome in my circles lately, but I hadn't realized it had gone to such a disparaging level.

I was hurt, to say the least. My wife cried as she and I talked about it. We believe we were called by God to come out here to Utah and help establish this church, but there have been times lately that we feel we don't belong. This is a heavy realization when it is understood that we moved out here to Utah from Michigan for this purpose.

Our thoughts began to turn as we talked. I wondered how much of my hurt was founded in pride. Do I need to be thought well of? Am I receiving my value more from men than from God? Does my service depend on my ego being stroked? Who am I serving?

With that change in thought, Mary Lee and I both remembered Mother Teresa's prayer that calls us to set aside our need to have our brothers and sisters in Christ tell us who we are - look to God for that assessment.

Deliver me, O Jesus,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire to being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.
Amen. ~ Mother Teresa


Kay said...

Hi Andrew!

I'm sorry that you have had this experience with your friend. I've been on the receiving end of something similar and it hurts. The prayer that you've posted seems very insightful. I don't thing we need anyone else's approval but God's (and I don't mean to have that come across as sounding prideful).

You were in Michigan before coming here? Have you told me that before? Where were you at? My husband is from Michigan and I lived there for a year before moving back here. We lived in Brighton. We even tried to buy a home in Whitmore Lake.

Andrew said...

I grew up in Shelby Township and moved to Macomb as an adult. These are both Northeast of Detroit. I spent a lot of time in Brighton and had many friends there. Brighton Wesleyan was part of a Bible Quiz program I worked with.

Six years ago, I would have assumed that I would always live in Michigan. Utah was definitely not on the radar. My wife and I were amazed at how beautiful it is out here. Prior to coming, I thought that Utah was all desert. ;)

didymus said...

Sorry to hear about the disparaging remarks, and not feeling like you belong, I can relate. I’ve had more than a few occasions where I no longer belonged, and I’ve been accused of a whole host of things from friends and enemies alike; thinking of a few… “cult member”, I had security remove me from a Greg Laurie Stadium Harvest Crusade once because someone there recognized me and told security I was a cult member. I’ve been denounced publicly on more than one occasion (usually happens in a coffee house), had a friend yell at me in a restaurant to “Shut Up, just Shut up” several times… he didn’t like my point of view on open theism (BTW, my talking about my views on open theism and theistic evolution has gotten me into more heated conversations than I can recall, pastors and friends alike having total melt downs. One time this guy who was interning with this church plant out here in Eagle Mountain got so frustrated over my view of open theism he literally stopped speaking intelligible English and stormed out of the coffee house, right in front of the pastor training him, and I.) I’ve been de-invited by friends to special church meetings because I’ve been blacklisted as an enemy of the church. I’ve been accused of being a “fall-away”, and some friends from San Diego start ignoring me. I think the best funky accusation ever leveled at me was from this one guy I knew just before and after I became a Christian. We bumped into each other on campus and he pulls me aside, he tells me, “the church you just joined… do you realize that it is a development out of a dog eating cult group from the Philippines” (it wasn’t). I asked him who had told him that. He said, “the pastor of his church.” (a local evangelical church). I remember telling him something along the lines of “Dude, if you’re going to persecute my church, can you please at least persecute it correctly!”

Some of those things hurt when I heard them, others where pretty funny even as the accusation rolled of their tongues. But with time, I’ve come to see them all as just part of the adventure God is putting me through.

Plus, if Jesus is any example, disparaging remarks from friends (as well as enemies) are part of the course of being a Christian.

Brook said...

becoming disillusioned with your protestant church, becoming an outsider there, drawing hope and inspiration from Mother Teresa and Henri Nouwen...Face it - you are well on your way to becoming a Catholic! ;-)

Adam Gonnerman said...

During difficult times I found strenght in the Prayer of the Trinity, per N.T. Wright.

And, no, I am not on my way to becoming Roman Catholic, Orthodox or anything similar.


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