November 20, 2008

Of Prayer and Coffee

I have shared my journey of glorious ruination concerning coffee. I am no longer content to partake of the long ground and short flavored stuff found in cans and bags of various description. Sure, it's still coffee but it's missing so much. Why settle for a stale scoop when a fresh, fine grind is available?

For those of you enjoying a cup from the house of Max or some ostensibly hand picked by Juan Valdez I can only shake my head in sorrow at all you are missing. For those of you who, like me, are relishing the marvelous complexities of a freshly ground brew (This morning Marquesas de Caseras from Brazil, medium roast) I lift my cup in congratulations. To be sure, in a pinch, I will drink a lesser cup of coffee but it is ALWAYS done in silent protest. You see, I know there is better coffee to be had and though I can endure a lesser version I long for that which I have tasted.

Which brings me to prayer. Through the years I have prayed many prayers both private and public. From time to time I have encountered the great prayers prayed by saints who have gone before and I have wondered at the difference that was, and is, evident in their prayers. I knew I was missing something and, truth be told, I know I am still missing it. I know there are better prayers to be had and though I have endured my lesser versions I long for that which I have tasted. As an example I offer this prayer from the opening of The Whole Armor of God, by John Henry Jowett.

Eternal God, may no distraction draw us away from our communion with Thee. May we come to Thee like children going home, jubilant and glad. We have been in the far country and our garments are stained. May we hasten to the ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. If we have been on fields of heavy battle, where the fire of the enemy has been awful and unceasing, may we hasten to Thee for the overhauling of our armor, and for the renewal of our strength. If we have been called upon to walk weary roads of unfamiliar sorrow, may we turn to Thee as to refreshing springs. If we have lapsed from our high calling, may we renew our covenant. If we have missed a gracious opportunity, may we seek another chance. If we have been counted faithful in any service, and have fulfilled our commission by the help of Thy grace, may we hasten to give the glory to Thee. Unite us, we humbly pray Thee, in the holy bonds of Christian sympathy. Deepen our pity so that we may share the sorrows of people far away. May we feel the burden of the burdened and weep with them that weep. May we not add to our sin by ceasing to remember those who are in need. Grant peace in our time, O Lord, the peace which is the fruit of righteousness. Let Thy will be done among all the peoples, so that in common obedience to Thee all the nations may find abiding union. Amen.

Mmmm. That's good prayer. I think I'll have another cup and I'm pretty sure I'll not be satisfied with lesser prayer in my own life.


sojourner said...

Beautiful prayer - much better than coffee! Glad to see you made it back safely.

Paul Thompson said...

John, I printed this prayer off and I've taken it with me to read and consider often since you posted it. It leave me wondering why I don't hear prayers like this and why I don't pray with this kind of intentionality. Thanks for posting it.

"Deepen our pity so that we may share the sorrows of people far away. May we feel the burden of the burdened and weep with them that weep. May we not add to our sin by ceasing to remember those who are in need."

John said...

Paul, I too wonder why I don't spend more time crafting prayer that reaches deeper than my all too shallow stream of consciousness. I read prayers like this and recognize my pitiful pride.

WHAT!?! Do I correctly understand that you disdain the joy of coffee? You poor, poor fellow traveler. I will pray for you.