Yesterday I preached a sermon at St. Alban’s about practice. Using athletic imagery from I Corinthians 9, I emphasized the need for diligent practice and training in the faith while pursuing the goal of becoming like Christ. As I have received a lot of feedback on this sermon, I feel a need to offer a personal reflection on its meaning for me.
(You can read that sermon here.)
First of all, let me be clear: it’s not always easy for me to pray. Sometimes I find it difficult to set aside dedicated take to practice my relationship with God. And on cold days like yesterday, I don’t particularly want to leave the comfort of my warm bed and go to church.
But I do anyway. And no, it’s not because “I’m paid to pray” or some silly notion like that. I pray daily and read the scriptures because I know I have to. Without prayer I lose my anchor and find myself swept about by the worries and joys of the day. Without the holy scriptures I believe what I tell myself, rather than find the truth that only comes from Jesus.
In my ordination service, our bishop, Andy Doyle, asked me a litany of questions. At this moment, two of these questions are pertinent: 1) Will you be diligent in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, and in seeking the knowledge of such things as may make you a stronger and more able minister of Christ? and 2) Will you persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God’s grace, both for yourself and for others…?
You can see, these are serious vows. And perhaps in some weird way my ordination has put me into a bind. I made a public vow to be diligent and to persevere in my spiritual growth with Christ. That’s no secret; anybody who was in the church that evening knows I responded, “I will.”
So here’s my dilemma. I can 1) do what comes naturally, that is, not pray, and break my ordination vows or I can 2) be faithful to my promises so that prayer and sacrifice become my second nature.
I will, with God’s help.