Prayers of the Chastened Disciple

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“Christians have a tendency to turn. . . consequences into judgments. (If something bad happens, God must be punishing me) (Hunter, 120).

However, God created the universe in an orderly fashion. He made gravity as well as other physical and material laws but that does not mean that a human being’s encounter with physical and material laws can be interpreted as God is out to hurt us for our sins, God is punishing us for our indiscretions.

When accidents happen, many of us should just leave it at that. “I have suffered an accident.”

Do we sometimes contribute to circumstances by our mental attitude?   Yes, we do.

I am going to be honest here.   In my fall on October 18 [sorry if I am boring you with referring to it one more time] I had a very prideful attitude toward my capabilities.   I felt I was strong enough, had good enough balance and was courageous enough to climb a twelve foot ladder and whack away on my trees. When I was on the ladder (about ten feet up), I realized that the base was not on flat ground and the ladder started swaying.   All this was not God; it was physics.   When the sway got too pronounced, the ladder fell, along with me.   Due to gravity, I hit my backside and that began my journey with pelvic trauma.

Did pride get me up on the tall ladder? Yes. Did my bravado embolden me to ignore safety and not secure the ladder on flat ground? Yes.   Did God engineer the whole episode to punish me? I really doubt that.

All this leads me to W. Bingham Hunter’s next chapter entitled “Responding: The Prayer of the Chastened Disciple”.

Accidents do happen and we hate them.   We don’t want to have trauma in our lives but it occurs. Jim Rendon, in his book Upside, reports that approximately 75% of people will have some traumatic event in their lives, unplanned damaging accidents that will cause some form of suffering [often great suffering]. He has studied trauma victims and what they go through as a result of their events. “Most reported negative effects. But to [his] surprise, a majority of the 600 trauma survivors interviewed reported positive changes to their lives.”

We have all heard clichés about life, you know expressions like “It is not how hard you fall, it is how well you get up.”   I had someone tell me that “to grow stronger, sometimes we have to be broken.”   Rendon’s positive trauma victims said they “had greater inner strength, were closer to friends and family, and were reorienting their lives toward more fulfilling goals.”

Could those clichés be true?

Scripture teaches us that God has established principles which guide us in our spiritual lives. Many of us have had human experiences that reinforce those spiritual principles.  You might be asking how all this talk about accidents relates to prayer.   I believe God can teach us a lot from the mistakes we make; the discipline we need can come from the errors we make in life; yes, even those accidents that occur.

Maybe prayer was lukewarm before trauma but prayer can accelerate greatly after trauma. Hunter says “some of the greatest factors affecting our willingness, desire and attitude in prayer are our reactions to the events God allows or sends into our lives.”

Pain and prayer are closely connected.

Even though Jim Rendon has not written a book based on scripture, his thoughts echo sentiments that can be inspirational to all people who are dealing with trauma and change. “Growth begins with healing from trauma. But people have the capacity to do far more than heal. Ultimately they can become better versions of themselves.”

When I read those words, I was heartened.

I wanted to respond well; I wanted to pray the prayers of the chastened disciple.

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