Monday, May 18, 2015

Piety by Pinterest: Morning Prayers

I did not go looking for this so as to be reactionary, but having bumped into it honestly, I reacted. 

Let's start with the control group. Here is Martin Luther's morning prayer:

"I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen"

The essence of this prayer is asking and thanking God for his protection against danger, recognizing that sin is the greatest danger. Its posture is total vulnerability and dependence. Its goal is to make it through the day safe in God's grace.

"God, this is a new day. I freshly commit myself to the role you have invited me to play, as you are building your church in this world. I am awestruck again today that you include me in this grand life-giving, world-transforming endeavor. So today I joyfully offer you my love, my heart, my talents, my energy, my creativity, my faithfulness, my resources, and my gratitude. I commit all of myself to the role you have assigned me in the building of your church so that it may thrive in this world. And I will 'bring it' today. I will bring my best. You deserve it. Your church deserves it. It is the Hope of the World."

The essence of this prayer is asking God to capitalize on the pray-er as much as possible. It sounds like the only danger this person faces is missing out on some speck of greatness she may have forgotten to put on her calendar. Its goal is to make it through the day having earned every gold medal there was to be had, for Jesus.

This second pray-er is playing for Team Church, so that's good. The prayer's optimism is not inconsistent with the hope that we have in Jesus and expecting good from God in every situation. But the difference between the two prayers is that the first proceeds from the theology of the cross; a position of complete humility: Nothing in my hand I bring/Simply to Thy cross I cling. All the first pray-er has to offer is her sin. The second wants to make sure the Lord knows that he's welcome to cash in on all those big MYs. 

But My creativity is not something I'd feel comfortable talking up to the Creator. I am not inclined to offer God my faithfulness or my best when He has explicitly told us  that all that belongs in the dumpster where it won't stink up the house. Considerations like these don't put me in the mood to start my day by telling Herr Gott allm√§chtig that I'm going to "bring it".

Luther's prayer is one I could pray no matter what my circumstances. Waking up alive is the only qualification for offering that prayer. The second prayer is one I would have a hard time praying on a day when I am sick or grieving or only have such un-transformative tasks ahead of me as the basic maintenance of order to which my lowly duties amount.

Well, here it is morning. Gloria patri!