Martin Luther’s barber, Peter, asked him how to pray.
Luther “ without doubt, at the time, one of the busiest and most hard-pressed men in the Electorate of Saxony, if not in the whole of Europe,” goes home immediately, and replies to this humble, unimportant parishioner.
Such, such are men and women whom God blesses!
And I love what Luther wrote. When he loses his joy, he treats it very seriously indeed. He treats it like an emergency!!
“First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.
It may well be that you may have some tasks which are as good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer and a proverb, “He who works faithfully prays twice.”
Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer.
The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer.”
* * *
As I grow older, I am finding it more of a necessity for my soul to be happy, joyful and peaceful in Christ. I don’t like to go through my day feeling unhappy. I would rather stop, drop, repent, forgive, whatever is necessary for my soul to be happy is Jesus.
Abiding in Christ is becoming a necessity for me to be able to write, to enjoy the company of my family and friends, to enjoy my day, to be happy!
And over the years, I have been training myself to stop when I find myself stressed, or unhappy or empty, and reorient myself to Christ; repent, if necessary; pray, and read Scripture, so that I can go through my day with a soul full of the Holy Spirit and of joy instead of being restless, stressed—or just plain empty!!
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