One of my favorite people to be around is Shane Claiborne author the great books The Irresistible Revolution and Jesus For President. Even though I don’t agree with everything he stands for e.g. I believe that scripture shows that the death penalty and just war is justified in the eyes of God. But beyond our differences I do think there’s a kind of integrity to Shane’s life and message that’s hard to argue with.
Yet if there’s one word I’d never associate with Shane Claiborne it’s the word Prayer. Words like peace and social justice seem more the kind of words I’d associate with him, so that’s why it was a surprise for me to learn that Shane had released a new book on prayer recently entitled, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (Zondervan).
In a recent article in Relevant Magazine Shane shared some things that I thought were quite remarkable.
He shared something profound about what brought the issue of prayer to the forefront for him and The Simple Way. He says:
“Through works of mercy on our streets and peacemaking in conflict zones around the world, our [monastic] communities [like The Simple Way in Philadelphia] have been known for their activism. But our communities have also learned action alone can become hollow and depressing. We set out to change the world … and then we realized we couldn’t even change ourselves. Our passion for justice has brought us face to face not only with the world’s brokenness, but with our own limitations.”
I thought it was awesome how he shared that it was their very work and realizing that they can’t do it on their own that drew them to prayer.
Something else he shared about the nature of prayer also stood out for me. Because sometimes I forget that prayer is in fact a discipline, it’s not a gift or something that comes naturally it’s something that we have to train ourselves to do.
“We often think of liturgical prayer as exercise for our souls. It doesn’t always feel good, but it stretches and strengthens us, getting rid of spiritual flab we’ve built up by consuming only spiritual food we like. But it’s not just about cutting flab; we enter into this discipline so we can focus our bodies and souls on joining God’s Kingdom work in the world. We pray so we can learn to work better, and we work so we can know how to pray better.”
The kind of praying he’s referring to here is liturgical prayer which I think is a practice where you get a book that kind of guides you on how to pray each day of the year. It comes with a verse of scripture and what to pray specifically, you can learn more about Claibornes liturgy project at CommonPrayer.net.
But no matter your style of prayer we can all agree that it’s often coming face to face with our own limitations that drive us to the Throne of Grace, and that it’s the difficult and mundane discipline of spiritual growth practices that mature us most into the people God wants us to be.
You can see the entire article on Relevant Magazine’s website here.