August 7

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  Jude 1:20-21

All teachers of Scripture conclude that the essence of prayer is simply the lifting up of the heart to God.  But if this is so, it follows that everything else that doesn’t lift up the heart to God is not prayer.  Therefore, singing, talking, and whistling without this lifting up of your heart to God are as much like prayer as scarecrows in the garden are like people.  The name and appearance might be there, but the essence is missing.

Jerome confirmed this truth about prayer when he wrote about the early church leader named Agathon. Agathon lived in the desert for thirty years and carried a stone in his mouth so that he would learn to stay quiet.  But how did he pray?  In his heart, undoubtedly.  This is the kind of prayer God likes the best.  In fact, this is the only kind of prayer God regards and wants.  But hearing the words helps us think about what we’re saying and helps us pray correctly.  We should consider our spoken words to be like a trumpet, drum, organ, or other kind of sound that moves our hearts and lifts them up to God.

We shouldn’t attempt to pray without words, relying on our own hearts, unless we are well trained spiritually and skilled in removing stray thoughts from our minds.  Otherwise, the devil will lead us astray and quickly destroy the prayers in our hearts.  So we should cling to the words and let them lift us up – lift us until our feathers grow and we’re able to soar high without the help of words.

Martin Luther’s Here I Stand (Audio CD)

In the late afternoon of April 18, 1521, in the city of Worms, Germany, Martin Luther, a 37 year-old Catholic monk was called to defend himself before Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman Emperor. The speech he delivered that day, Here I Stand, marked the beginning of the Reformation, a critical turning point in Christian history that decisively altered the spiritual map of the world. In this recording, Max McLean introduces the events leading up to the Diet of Worms; Martin Luther’s prayer the night before he delivered his speech; Luther’s stirring defense; the Catholic church’s rebuttal; and, Luther’s final heartfelt response.

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