Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Reasons why we don't pray 4

4. It often seems to make no difference whether we pray or not
Surrounded as we are by people who take the pragmatic approach and ask only "does it work?" we too are often affected by the fact that it is so difficult to demonstrate empirically what difference prayer makes. Sometimes we are very prayerful about a matter, at other times we are not. However, there often does not seem to be a whole lot of difference between the one and the other. We have all had the embarrassment too of people saying, thank you for praying, when they have had an answer they desired, when in fact we know that we hardly prayed at all.
Today the police, the teachers and the NHS and other institutions have targets to attain to and this has made them very goal oriented. Again, we imbibe this sort of thinking and because prayer often seems to be one of the less productive aspects of Christian living we are tempted to downplay it. We refuse to give it up altogether as that would clearly be wrong. However, its vital nature, even if we pay lip service to the idea, quite honestly seems questionable at least.
So what is the root of this problem? Basically it is a lack of faith that undermines our prayer lives at this point. Too often we are looking for quick, tangible, easily assessed results not the more long term, spiritual results that are much less easy to assess at this limited vantage point. We need to get a more eternal, less earth centred angle on things. Yes, prayer often does not seem to work but what do mean by such a statement? Are our minds closed to the idea that it is only at the very end that things can properly be assessed? Why are we so often thinking only in the short term. We believers, of all people, should be armed against that particular trap.

1 comment:

Reformation said...

I am a Calvinistic Anglican.

I pray at 10AM and 4PM daily.

I use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The arguments against such, e.g. Owen, are not helpful nor impressive.

How dare any of us, of any Reformation perspective or dare we miss our appointed times of doing business with the Redeemer and Commander of the Heavens and Earth?

If you want a Presbyterian or Reformed model of that, confer with the example of old General Stonewall Jackson. A military duty to not miss command meetings. How much more so, Jackson believed and practiced, with His Majesty.

Thanks. Good post.