A friend was telling me about books written in a “how to” way on subjects like prayer, etc. He warned me that they can miss a focus on Christ and how it relates to him, because they focus on the mechanics of what they’re teaching instead.
I came across some rules for psalm singing from The Practice of Piety by Lewis Bayly (p154-155), I think they help point us towards a right attitude. I found them very interesting and I hope you do too:
- Don’t sing divine psalms just for fun, mixed in with all sorts of unholy songs. They are God’s word: don’t take them lightly.
- Sing David’s psalms with David’s spirit (Matthew 22:43).
- Practice Paul’s rule: “I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the understanding also.” – 1 Corinthians 14:15.
- Behave appropriately, with a suitable reverence as though you were in the sight of God, singing to God with God’s own words.
- Make sure that the content makes more melody in your hearts (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16) than the music in your ear; for it’s singing with grace in the heart that pleases the Lord.
I came across the following quote recently:
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.
– Matsuo Basho
This challengingly reminded me that we aren’t to pray for praying’s sake, but rather we do so to seek the face of God and a personal relationship with Him!
When we know the theological lingo and understand the concepts, attributes, elements, et cetera of prayer, we can be distracted by the assembling of these together. We might actually get to the stage of searching our heart in light of the Word of God and trying to bring our petitions, but how much are we relating to God as our Father, and nurturing that relationship?
Thankfully, I hope I do, a bit. By the Spirit of His Son in me, I can relate to God as my Father – it feels right – but when I consider it, definitely not with the depth that I so dearly long to have.
I know it’s pretty easy to be distracted, and we’ve a lot of opposition, but let’s try and refocus on what prayer should be. I’m hoping a deeper relationship with God will create in me a stronger desire to lovingly obey, rather than selfishly disobey. Forwards, Christian soldier!
Anyone got any thoughts on how to apply this same principle to how we relate to preaching/evangelism/service/other aspects? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking. This journey’s one we’re to do together. Even if you don’t comment here, talk to me when you see me and we can talk :-). I’d love to hear what you’re thinking!