Friday, May 18, 2007

a word from brother lawrence...

"God has infinite treasure to bestow, and we take up with a little sensible devotion which passes in a moment. Blind as we are, we hinder God and stop the current of His graces. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His graces and favors plentifully; there they flow like a torrent, which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance."

That passage from The Practice of Presence of God hit home with me this morning.

"...and we take up with a little sensible devotion which passes in a moment." How true is that? We are taught, "Hey, I know you are busy. I know you have lots of important stuff to do. But just 15 minutes a day...that's all it takes. A scripture and a quick prayer and then boom, you're done and can move on with your day."

It is really a surprise that 15 minute devotions are about as successful as "7 Minute Abs"? I mean, how many people have purchased a Bowflex... just to have it catch dust in their basement a month later?

Maybe the way to awaken spiritual fervor in people isn't to make it as quick and easy as possible. Maybe our cultural adherence to 'the more convenient...the better" doesn't translate so well into matters of faith. Maybe, just maybe, God considers devotion a matter of our heart, not a matter of a small time allotment at the beginning or end of our day.

Is it wrong to do daily devotions? No. Absolutely not. Is 15 minutes too short of a time? Maybe, maybe not. I think it is up to the individual. But what I do know is that we can not proclaim something to be of utmost importance and then teach people how to get through it as quickly as possible.

I guess what I'm wondering aloud is: by teaching that 'devotions' are quick and easy, are we not also making them unimportant and irrelevant? And maybe a more vital question is: and are we, thus, effectively stopping the "current of God's graces" upon us?

I honestly don't know.


Brokenness-Quebrantado said...

Bill, I agree that is not about how much time we spend with Abba, but I believe my daily time with Him will give me more assurance of my personal relationship with Him. But you know, it is personal so no one in this world is going to have this same relationship. Imagined just limit my interaction with my wife for only 15 minutes a day? don't you think will be weird.....but to be able to spend time with Abba and enjoyed it has taken me many year and still is.

bill said...

oh point was NOT that we shouldn't spend time with God each day. no, no, no. the question if anything was: is 15 minutes really enough?

and by teaching people that 15 minutes a day is all they need, are we doing more harm to their spiritual lives than good? are we actually just setting them up to fail by making "devotion" so "easy"?

i probably didn't say that clearly in the post. sorry. i may not have been all the way awake yet.

The Anonymous Human said...

It reminds me of the encounter time at CIY during the summer. At the beginning of the week, I'd sit down with the biblioteca and be bored in about a minute and a half. But by the end of the week, I wouldn't be able to get through half of the material because I was so engrossed in His word I'd run out of time.

I wish I did spend 15 a day with God. Most of the time it's like 10 min on this day, none the next, a prayer before dinner the next night, and then a guiltfest bible reading at lunch the next day to make up for it. If I did spend 15 min a day, that would be an improvement, not a detriment. But it still wouldn't be enough.

Brokenness-Quebrantado said...

well, yes I know what you were trying to say. I don't know if 15 minutes is all they need, or we need. For some it will be enough for others may be not. How much time? I don't if I can say that, but may be just encourage people to do it like we do in any other relationship if we want to get closer. But have you ever have friends that are very close to you and may be you talk to them once a month?......

bill said...

jake, i think your paradoxical statement, "If I did spend 15 min a day, that would be an improvement, not a detriment. But it still wouldn't be enough" is exactly what i am talking about. i think that is probably the case for many, many people.

let me ask a very simple question lawrence aside. is there anything we can do about that? as ministers, as leaders, is there anything we can do about the fact that 15 minutes probably isn't enough for most people, yet at this point, it would be a vast improvement for them?

or is it just not that big of a deal and i'm making a mountain out of a molehill? maybe.

The Anonymous Human said...

For me, it isn't a matter of learning someone some bible reading. It's teaching them to fall in love with Jesus. The more I know him, the more of him I want to know.

It's like when students used to ask me why they couldn't get over this one (or most of the time, many) sin and they'd always say, "I'm going to try harder." But the answer is never, ever to try harder. It's to get to know him more. The more we try with our human flesh, the more we'll fail. It's the releasing of ourselves and letting the spirit long for it's counterparts. I feel like reading and praying is a natural result of loving God more. Sometimes it's a discipline, but most of the time, when my life is most aligned with his will, it's not a chore at all.

And when you refer to me, bill, I'd prefer to be known as Reverend Jake.