“The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side. One can’t help him, no matter how one tries.”
Martin Luther has captured for us a very profound truth regarding human reason. We often climb on the horse on one side and then overcorrect. We slump over to the other side. Instead of sitting balanced, we live and breathe in a world of extremes.
Overcorrecting in Prayer
Overcorrection is never more obvious in the life of a believer than in one’s prayer life.
Do you remember that moment when you realized that you can legitimately and “legally” pray to God wherever you are, however you are? It happened this way for me.
As we buckled up on our way for family vacation, I watched my mother lead us in prayer as we drove off. I found out that Dad was able to pray with us, too, while watching the road. Eyes wide open, no bowed head. He wasn’t missing out one bit. This was so against the Sunday mornings I knew. It opened a whole new realm for my prayer life.
While there remains a handful of “eyes-closed, head-bowed” sticklers out there, the norm has become something very different. We have emphasized an approach to prayer that is completely subjective. “Pray as you see fit.” Maybe your “prayer time” is in the car every morning. Maybe it’s while you’re in line at the grocery store. The consensus, though, is just to pray when you’ve been stirred in the soul to do so. Often the reality is prayer occurs when you feel coldly obligated to at mealtime and maybe before bed, if you’re lucky. As Oswald Chambers poses it, “There is no need to get to a place of prayer; pray wherever you are.”
I get it – sort of. I understand that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is in our Bibles and that we should delight to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is not a checkbox we should accomplish, but a disposition we should strive for. We should want to talk to God wherever we are. It’s not the sentiment that I take issue with. It is the implications this sentiment often leads to -the main implication being how this view of prayer affects our reverence.
The majority of the times we talk about kneeling in prayer are when we make light of our old backwoods-church traditions (see above), or when we comment on how bad some of those worship stock images are (see the silhouettes balancing on a mountain behind a multi-colored sky).
Is this a problem?