25 March 2010

Helping a Teen Ager Use the Treasury

I have frequently commented that Luther really didn't get rid of monasteries; his idea was to move the monastery into the home! I mean, he PREACHED at home, for heaven's sake. Not to mention hymns and prayers and Bible reading and such.

But it is true that most people are not called the monastic life and cannot actually pray the daily office, even in the sense of three offices of Matins, Vespers and Compline that comprise the heart of the office for Lutherans.

So what can a young person do who laments that they just don't know how to pray? I had this conversation last night. "But I always only think about myself. My prayers are so narcissistic."

My answer is: "take up the Treasury." A very simple discipline can be made of praying each day the Psalm (printed out for the day) and one of the Bible readings and the prayer for the day and then the prayer for the day of the week (pages 1306ff.) and wrap up with the Lord's Prayer. Simple, really. It does NOT need to be elaborate. It does need to be consistent, but even with when you fail to pray on a certain day, remember - as Pr. Kinnaman wrote so beautifully in the intro - that others of the Body of Christ are praying that day and you are not alone; you are joining a vast company who bear your weaknesses. Doing this much will keep you praying for all sorts and conditions of people, will draw you out of yourself into the Word and into the world as you bear the burdens of others. Yesterday was Wednesday, and I pointed out that by praying the week day prayers we remembered all those whose pilgrimages are coming to an end, and asked God's grace and mercy on them.

Making disciplined, daily prayer a part of one's life is a battle - and Satan wants nothing more than to see you go for days without being fortified by the Word or calling on God. Remember above all: the discipline of prayer is FOR YOUR BENEFIT. It doesn't make God love you any more than He already does (His fullness of love for you can never be diminished). He doesn't NEED your prayer; YOU need Him, and that's why you pray. He comes to you in His Word (and that's why praying the Psalm and the Bible reading are vital to the discipline). Treasury simply makes these much easier.

Too many start out trying to do too much in prayer. It's a formula for failure. Start out small, do so consistently, and it will grow. It can't not.

My two cents on the topic.


Sue said...

Something I like to use in addition to the Treasury is a tri-fold laminate card put out by CPH, from the LSB, Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families (it’s pages 299-304 in the LSB). It measures about 5 ½ by 8 ½. It is available in packages of 10 from CPH for a very reasonable price. Over about a year’s time, I have gone through 4 packages, in sharing them with a lot of people. I keep one by “my” chair at home (it’s really my cat’s chair), another next to my bed, and a third on my desk at work. I think it’s a great thing for helping people either to get started or get a boost in their prayer life. It includes Luther’s morning and evening prayers, which I like to start and end my day with. It’s easy to do a short “office” with this in hand, especially at work, where you are less likely to have much time to spend. Having it sitting on my document stand next to my computer is a constant reminder to pray, and reminds me to pray for different things throughout the day. I keep a few Bible verses, hymns (right now, On My Heart Imprint Your Image), and favorite prayers at my desk for easy access as well. (And no, Pastor McCain did not pay me to say this!)

William Weedon said...

Yes, those things are great!

KathyS said...

We gave our son a TDP. He's in college. How joyous it was when he text messaged me at 2am once and said, "Thanks for TDP. It's helped me through some difficult times." Our nephew recently married a Roman Catholic girl. Their wedding gift from us was a TDP. In their thank you note, they said it has cuased them to have some very helpful conversations! I tell our son, "At least pray the Psalm for the day, if you can't get to anything else."