Prayer and Modern Man
EPUB EBook by Jacques Ellul
EBook DescriptionThis book is dated in places as Ellul relates to the modern at the time he first wrote (1970). Prayer and Modern Man EPUB EBookBut modern ideas about the efficiency and efficacy of prayer that Ellul responds to remain part of modern thinking and his radical understanding of the place and power of prayer continue to shake up my own thinking.
The first chapter, "Intimate and Reassuring Views of Prayer" attacks the sentimental, the official, the frenetic.For Ellul "prayer is precisely not a means of laying hold of God."It is not a system, a way to get ahold of someone living at a distance, but a miracle to reach the one who is always close at hand.He reminds that too often saying "thy will be done," is a statement of sloth, impotence and cowardice, not of humility.It easily becomes a prayer seeking convenience, not obedience.
The second and the third chapters are tied to the thinking of his place and time, but chapter four comes back with a vengeance on practice. "Prayer is not an affair of the moment.It is the continuous woof on which is woven the warp of my occupations, my sentiments, my actions.The warp without that woof will never constitute a whole, a pattern, and the tissue of life will never be woven.We will, in fact, give way to every solicitation.Without prayer we are like children carried away by every wind of doctrine."The entire chapter is a challenge to watch and pray, with the former only possible because of the latter.
The final chapter, "Prayer as Combat", is the most remarkable.He reminds western Christians how deeply they have bought into consumption, turning even prayer into a consumer activity."Finally, prayer can display a quality of acquisition, which also is related to consumption.We talk of having faith, of having the Holy Spirit, not of living in and by faith, of receiving and being sent forth by the Holy Spirit.We are automatically oriented by our society in this direction of appropriation."Discussing the Lord's Prayer in this context, "We can say that the model furnished by Jesus is the anti- EPUBconsumer prayer par excellence.It is centered on God's needs, not ours."
This "review" is breaking down into straight quotations of this wonderful and challenging text."We never dare enough in petitioning God, in putting him to the test of what he can do (and of what he has already wanted to do, since we have the promise).It is not resorting to magic or uncivilized to demand something of God, as when Elijah asked that the sacrificial victims be burned, or when Jesus asked that the fruitless fig tree wither.It is, rather, the audacity of knowing that God can do that, and of committing oneself to asking him.It is a commitment of the self, because what a blow it is if God remains silent!...If our prayers are prudent and empty, that is because we have become incapable of putting God to the test.We are afraid of risking our reputations."
For Ellul prayer is a striving with God, but it is also the only source of our hope, our connection with the eschaton and our chance to direct history.He has no small idea of the place of prayer and in that he is speaking distinctly against our technological and consumerist society.
"Prayer for society puts the latter in its place.In spite of all its strength and technical successes, its scientific excellence and its "great society," it is a poor little commonplace, transitory reality, for which it is absolutely necessary to pray.Without that persistent prayer, this grandiose society will soon be nothing but a frenzy of pride and suicide."
Not a book for everyone, but one that keeps shocking me with every rereading, making me dare more in prayer. Like this book? Read online this: Pure Faith A Prayer Book for Teens, Mentor Development in the Education of Modern Language Teachers (Modern Languages in Practice, 18).
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