Epistles of Thomas

March 12, 2009

Learning to Pray from the Saints review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 20:52

Yesterday evening I attended the first of three lectures this year on the theme “Learning to Pray from the Saints” hosted by Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Free Church.

Yesterday’s lecture was by Gordon Smith, entitled “St. Ignatius of Loyola-The Way of Contemplation and Discernment.” I have taken classes by Smith before in Systematic Theology and Conversion and Transformation and knew beforehand that he is passionate about the monastic tradition, especially the Jesuits. I have read Ignatius’ Spirit Exercises and the Rule of St. Benedict among others so I am familiar with this tradition which was helpful. The audience was largely Chinese and I am certain that many of them were more than somewhat lost by his intellectual language and the newness of the subject matter.

The lecture focused on the idea that there must be convergence between our life of spirituality and our life of everyday “mundane” living; the ridiculous and the sublime, if you will. He emphasised the immediacy on our encounter with Christ in prayer and stressed communing with him rather than just thinking about him. He spoke often of his own spiritual retreats and mentioned how he has taken Ignatius plan and shortened it from 30 days to five days or even one day. Unfortunately, he did not provide much insight into how audience members could begin to use his learning to implement their own prayer retreats. Thankfully during the question period a woman asked for him to elaborate on the four sections of the prayer period so he did. The four sections are:

1. Give thanks to God for his goodness and blessing to us. He stressed that this needs to be personalised because those who cannot see God as loving in their own lives will not be able to see him as loving in general.

2. Prayer for alertness to how we have failed in the last day and repentence and forgiveness.

3. Read the Bible and encounter Christ in the Word.

4. Ask “How am I called to serve him today?”

For more information on this subject and the details of having a day long retreat his recommended his book, Alone with the Lord: A Guide to a Personal Day of Prayer, which is available from the Regent Bookstore fro $7.95. The lecture was a success and I think everyone learned at least something and were challenged to pray more deliberately and not just at the weekly church prayer meeting.

The remaining lectures in this series are listed below. For more information and location you can follow the links above.

May 27, 7:30pm – Bruce Hindmarsh, “Finding Christ at the Centre: The Journey of Prayer in St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle.”

Sept 19, 10:00am – John Toews, “St. Benedict-The Way of Monastic Prayer.”

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2 Comments »

  1. This sounds like it was very beneficial. It’s interesting, but I’ve got this knee-jerk reaction to seeing the terms “pray” and “saint” in the title without thinking that the posting is about catholicism and praying to/with saints, so this was refreshing to see that this was actually more specifically regarding how believers should be praying (with no saintly intercession required… šŸ™‚
    I might have to check out this book once I finish up with our current study book. Thanks!

    Comment by Rob — March 18, 2009 @ 4:36 | Reply

    • There was definitely no saintly intercession mentioned in his lecture. There has been a lot written on prayer by Protestants in recent decades that draws from the Roman Catholic monastic era. I am looking forward to hear Hindmarsh speak on Teresa of Avila.

      Comment by Thomas — March 18, 2009 @ 21:41 | Reply


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