March Forums

Praying As We Ought
Discovering Who We Are Meant To Be

By David Romanik

One of the themes that runs through the New Testament is the idea that we must be taught how to pray. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus institutes the Lord’s prayer only after his disciples say, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul notes, “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” In many ways, this is one of the more difficult concepts found in the Bible. We generally think of prayer as something organic, a natural and visceral response to grief or danger. It seems the height of arrogance to presume that there is a particular way we should pray. Why then is the Bible so insistent that we “pray as we ought?”

The theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas argues that the quality of our prayer is intimately tied to our relationship with the world. As he puts it colorfully, “bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend.” Though Hauerwas is known for occasionally speaking in crass hyperbole, the point he makes is deadly serious. Our prayer shapes our perspective on the world. In other words, the way we relate to God says much about what we expect from the people around us. If we only interact with God when we are in desperate need, then our impression of our fellow human beings will be shaped primarily by what they can provide for us. On the other hand, praying “as we ought” leads to a more compassionate and generous perspective on the world.

During the season of Lent, our forum series will explore how we are called to pray. Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 as we consider how our prayer might transform our experience of the world. Unless otherwise noted, all forums will meet in Room 1-2-3 of the Parish House.

March 4
“Humbly I Adore Thee”

When his children got married, a late parishioner of this church would tell them to remember two things: that there is a God, and it’s not you. This message of humility is an exceptionally good reminder for someone who has just entered the covenant of marriage, but it is also a succinct summary of what a perspective shaped by prayer looks like. At its most basic level, prayer requires adoration: acknowledging that God is God and we are part of God’s creation. Yet, it is often this way of praying that is most likely to elude us. Join Peter Vanderveen as he considers how we might more effectively practice adoration.

March 11
“Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving”

At the very heart of our common life is the Eucharist, the sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ on the night he was handed over to suffering and death. It’s is easy to think of the Eucharist as a mere communal meal, a way of bringing everyone in the community together. While this is certainly an aspect of our Eucharistic celebration, there is a much deeper meaning, one that informs how we are meant to live in the world. Join Tory Dunkle and David Romanik for this intergenerational forum, as we explore the true significance of the meal we share every Sunday. Since Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, this forum will meet after the 10:00 service in the church.

March 18
“That We May Be Strengthened in our Weakness”

According to the Letter of James, members of the early Church who were sick called upon the elders of the community to come lay hands on them. This is foreign to our experience, not just because those who are sick have access to professional medical care, but because we tend to conceal our infirmities from those around us. Nevertheless, one of the central assumptions of the Church is that we should feel empowered to bring our troubles to God, that we should acknowledge our vulnerabilities and admit our dependence on God’s grace. One of the most dramatic and powerful ways we do this is through the sacramental rite of healing. In this rite, which is also known as “unction,” representatives of the Church pray for God’s grace to be given for the healing of spirit, mind, body through the laying on of hands. The sacramental rite of healing has been part of the liturgical life at The Redeemer for a number of years. Join members our Healing Ministry team as they discuss the power that comes from acknowledging our dependence on God’s grace.

Last Published: February 27, 2018 11:05 AM