I wrote this a couple of weeks ago after finishing, Mudhouse Sabbath.
January 19 –
Just finished reading “Mudhouse Sabbath” by Lauren Winner. She takes a number of Jewish practices and considers ways they might enhance the practice of Christianity.
Several selections gain my attention. The chapter on prayer. The practice of liturgical prayer, though often “dull and boring” seems to keep one’s focus on God. Winner admits attempts at spontaneous prayer did not find her praying more but rather less.
I wonder if results from a sense of freedom from “form” which creates the environment for “less prayer.” My own prayer life at times could be described as “sporadic.” I wonder if the opposite – a regular liturgy/litany of prayer would make the habit of praying more indelible.
I also wonder if there is truth to a prayer liturgy offering a way outward. Winner suggests this spontaneous praying often left her feeling narcisstic – only praying for herself. Written prayers give us the possibility of thinking more widely about what to pray for/about.
We practice spontaneous prayer at church. Many times the same prayers are prayed by the same people – very little variety. We pray for forgiveness of sinss, the sick, the lost and for guidance. I suspect any attempt to marry the two would be difficult since we fear anything “liturgical” yet, we by our own habits, establish our own “liturgy.”
Written prayers are no less spiritual than spontaneous prayers. In fact, written prayers make us more thoughtful, engagin the mind with the heart.
I like the challenge of this little book – you might too.