Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Prayer

Praying without ceasing.

In my own mind I often think of this as a mantra. Simply put, my thoughts lack sufficient creativity or individualism to be more than a little litany recanted. Requests are obvious. They guide and shape my thoughts which mold my deeds.

These actions when deliberate and repeated become my habits.

My habits are the strategy in this my daily war. It's not so hard to see the continuous assault on the senses that is my life as battle. From these I can only call my thoughts as pawns and bishops. They race quickly to the fray and often times slide in new directions, moving so fast they are almost of their own motivation.

My gift, discernment, the speed of thoughts intensified beyond normalcy until I find it painful to crawl within the crudely fashioned language of the normal folk.

So here is why the mantra is so vital. Praying stills my thoughts. It helps my mind to juggle and play the left-handed swordsman. It's a poor substitute for true combat but keeps my troops training sharply. And it is His will. Therefore it is my hearts desire.
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
-- 1 Corinthians 14:15
In each day I face struggles of intellect and emotion. Prayer is the means provided me by my Father to turn this into something more than a struggle. It becomes an exercise in service, and a treasured way to open my heart and conform my will to His.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Systematic Theology

Sometimes I feel like faith is work.

Trying to walk by faith, to keep thoughts aligned to faith, to make faith the motivation for works; these things are more than hard. They are treadmill of my days, the siege I find myself dragged awake to in the morning, and collapsing exhausted with at night. Except when I'm not.

For me, faith is both the weight and the wings. It emboldens me and grieves me by turns. And it has only been with study that an inkling of why this paradox exists has become apparent to me. It is when I am reminded of love that my feet are lifted with the power of faith. When my mind forgets to season faith with love; that is when I fall to my knees under the press of guilt and strictures.

My searching in this area, led me back to an old staple: Charles Finney's Systematic Theology.
"It should never be forgotten that the faith that is the condition of justification, is the faith that works by love. It is the faith through and by which Christ sanctifies the soul. A sanctifying faith unites the believer to Christ as his justification; but be it always remembered, that no faith receives Christ as a justification, that does not receive him as a sanctification, to reign within the heart. We have seen that repentance, as well as faith, is a condition of justification. We shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification."

Powerful words make a powerful reminder.

It is when I leave the leaven of love aside that my walk becomes of works and not of faith. When walking in works and not faith, it becomes a plight, a trudge through the barren landscape of life without a Savior.

Interestingly enough, this is more than just with my Christ. In all my relationships, when I fail to keep love at the forefront of each exchange is when those exchange become unhealthy and a hindrance. It is easy to serve when you start with love and a burden when you're loveless.