Busyness and prayer

“That mighty preacher, Thomas Chalmers, was once pondering over why, in spite of all his efforts and enormous popularity, there was not more spiritual outcome to show for it all, and came to this conclusion that he was trusting to his ‘own animal heat and activity’ rather than to the Holy Ghost. And is not that a shrewd and accurate diagnosis of the church’s ailment in our day? Never was there a ministry so bustled and rushed and perspiring as ours is now. If things stick, we devise yet another type of meeting, and when this additional wheel is spinning round with all the rest of the complex machinery, and a wind is blowing in our hot faces, we feel better, and have a comfortable sense that something is going on; are tired and sticky, but happy engineers. But the whole point of the ministry, the reason why there is ministry at all, is that people out in the press of life and finding that there they cannot keep in sight of God but get continually drifted away from him, that the little matters, to which it is their duty to attend, of necessity crowd him out of their preoccupied minds, – lay hands upon a man, praying him, ‘live in the secret of God’s presence; and in the hush there, which we cannot know, commune with him face to face; and week by week, come out and share with us the message which, in that stillness, you have had a chance of hearing. We’ll pay you for it, man, if you will only do it!’ But now the ministry is every whit as busy as the rest of folk; and, in the roar of its machinery, can hear no more than anybody else. If only we would pray! But we, too, put our trust in our won animal heat and hard-breathing activity. Macaulay’s fault, said that shrewd judge, Lord Cockburn, is ‘that he is always over-talking, and so always under-listening.’ So is the ministry these days. And, as Euripides reminds us, ‘even Zeus cannot reveal himself to a busybody.’” (Arthur John Gossip in Dobberstein Pg.298f)

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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