Squandering the Treasure
by Larry Beane
One of our LCMS districts sent out the following advice for prayer:
1) Go to the Facebook Search Bar.
2) Close your eyes and hit a random letter.
3) Pray for the first three people on the list.
Yes, they actually sent this out. It's not a joke,
When it comes to prayers and devotions, think of all the richness of our Lutheran tradition, old and new. Think about the plethora of resources for prayer that are available at CPH and from Lulu. Think about the treasure that is the Psalter and the Daily Office - and how these are accessible to us modern Lutherans via the Treasury of Daily Prayer, which is even available on a smartphone app. There is Oremus produced by Pastor David Kind, The Essential Lutheran Prayer Book and Lord, Teach Us to Pray by Deacon Latif Gaba, and Emmanuel Press's Brotherhood Prayer Book edited by Pastor Michael Frese and Dr. Benjamin Mayes.
The Minister's Prayer Book by John Doberstein is an often overlooked trove of treasure from our tradition that specifically has pastors in mind. Although out of print, Herbert Lindemann's The Daily Office remains a gem. Our own Dr. Burnell Eckardt has authored a devotional volume that plumbs the depths of Scripture and the meditations of the church fathers: Every Day Will I Bless Thee.
From the beautiful treasures of our Lutheran past come Emanuel Press's reprint of Johann Starck's Motherhood Prayers as well as their reprint of Wilhelm Loehe's Seed-Grains of Prayer. Those who enjoy daily meditations by Dr. Luther can always find an old copy of Day By Day We Magnify Thee.
For a less rigorous approach to prayer from within our tradition, we have the prayers for morning and evening and the mealtime prayers enshrined within our Small Catechism, as well as a user-friendly devotional based on the Catechism called The Lord Will Answer.
Moreover, let's not forget about the richness of our hymns, our collects, our prayers for family devotions, and our litanies which are found in our hymnals. And pastors will be particularly blessed with the Pastoral Care Companion, a wonderful resource for giving soul care in the parish - and which is also available as a phone app.
And if you want something more spontaneous, think about Luther's pamphlet in which he taught his barber to pray. There is also the modern Portals of Prayer, which includes a light daily devotion and can be carried in the pocket. For intercessory prayer, there are our congregational prayer lists of people in need. There are also our persecuted brethren to pray for.
All of this richness and vast array of options expose the shallowness of what amounts to be a kind of Facebook game, a sort of "prayer roulette" that is not much different than the old canard of opening a Bible at random and pointing to a verse. This is not too distantly removed from using a Magic 8-Ball or a Ouija Board as a prayer aid, or just plain hurling darts at a board.
How sad to disregard such rich treasure and trade it in for tawdry trinkets.