productive patient prayer

The Philokalia has become a staple of daily reading for me.  It is what I read alongside the lucy prayingBible. The Philokalia is a collection of writings by the solitary dessert fathers.   The wisdom of the early dessert fathers is immense.  The way that they look at life in God’s presence is truly awe-inspiring.  I have learned so much from them but this morning I was reflecting on what was the best nugget of truth that I have learned that has made an impact on my life.

Evagrios the solitary said: “If you patiently accept what comes, you will always pray with joy.”

Out of all of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve read, this line it swirled around in my head for days.  Why will you always pray with Joy if you are a patient person?  When I read this originally I had just read one of the teachings of Jesus on how often to pray.

Luke 11:5-8

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

What struck me is that patience and persistence go together.  In having an attitude of persistence, you will grow in patience.

Prayer is not about getting what you want.  In spending abundant time with God you become the kind of person that asks for things that He desires for you.  What Evagrios the Solitary taught me is that without patience, your prayer life will not be productive.  Jesus seems to want us to continue to ask of Him with shameless audacity.  If we are not a people of patience how can we ever wait with the kind of shameless audacity that God desires of us?

Imagine of the man in the story was not patient.  He would have asked, and then after immediately not getting what he wanted, he would leave empty-handed.  How many times have you thought that prayer doesn’t work?

Here is what I am learning and only after 10 years of being a pastor and 16 years of becoming a Christian.  Write out what you are praying for, and stick with it.  When you don’t know what to say, silence will do for the one who knows you intimately.

To get to patience, I am learning to ruthlessly eliminate hurry.  Although, this is tough it helps to remind me of what is truly important in life.  Without patience your prayer life will not be productive. But once you learn patience, your prayer life will seem more than incredible, it will be joyful.

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science and philosophy

If I were to tell you that I made a major scientific breakthrough that has massive implications,brain you’d probably be interested.  What if I told you that I have found the cure for an incurable disease, and the means of my scientific breakthrough was prayer?  That is where I’d lose you.  I think if that most people would be skeptical of this claim, and the reality is, I would be skeptical of this too.  You should be skeptical of this claim because as a pastor I lack the knowledge and therefore the authority to speak into science.  And for the record, I have not found the cure to an incurable disease through prayer.

Obviously I’m trying to make a point.  A few days ago I went to a fascinating discussion at the Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, with Dr. Joshua Greene.  Dr. Greene is the author of, “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them”.  For full disclosure I have not read the book, though that is not what concerns me.  It was the discussion that left me wondering if we sometimes use the mantle of scientific research to talk authoritatively about a philosophic worldview.

After the discussion I raised my hand to ask a question, because of the high volume of questions I was not picked, but here it is:  “For the purposed of your lab work, how did you define morality?”   What seems like a simple question really is not.  I wanted to know by which means they defined morality because it actually informs the science and therefore their outcomes.  The reason why I’d like to know this is that Dr. Greene seemed to come to a conclusion in his book that utilitarianism is really the best way to live.  The research seemed to be centered on emotional choices that the subjects made toward others.  Based on Dr. Greene’s interview it seems like they somehow drew a conclusion from their research that the best way to live is by applying the philosophy of utilitarianism to your life.  I am not saying that they defined morality from their research (I don’t think they did, nor were they trying to) but what I am saying is that they piled up the authority of research on utilitarianism.  What they essentially did was associate utilitarianism with good morality by using neuroscience.

We wrongly assume that science has something to say about everything, including philosophical worldviews.  Using behavior research does not mean that you can draw a conclusion on the best way to live.  In so doing, you are making a philosophical statement on which is best.  Therefore, it would seem that scientific research based in philosophical thought is flawed from the beginning.

I might be cynical and I am trying not to be judgmental because I do not know Dr. Greene.  (He seems like a great person).  I assume that Harvard is monitoring their research carefully after all their reputation is at stake.  So purely from my perspective I left with plaguing questions about academia.  Is academia using the good favor that “scientific research” enjoys to push a worldview?  If these are scientist coming to conclusions about philosophy, then what authority do they really have to speak into the field of philosophy?  Just as the scientific community would think it absurd for me to make a scientific breakthrough on prayer, why don’t we think it equally absurd for science to advocate for a philosophy?

Draw your own conclusions and watch the discussion here: http://www.scpr.org/events/2013/11/14/1223/moral-tribes/

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