Monday, December 22, 2014

Prayer-Worship as Entering the Real World (PrayerLife)

Sign, in Ann Arbor
James K.A. Smith is one of my favorite authors. I'm about halfway through slow-reading his brilliant Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

At the book's beginning Smith begins to articulate the parameters of real worship.  He writes:

"Christian worship is not some religious silo for our private refueling that replenishes our "inner" life. It is not merely some duty that we observe in order to keep our eternal ducks in a row; nor is it some special sequestered "experience" that fills up a "religious" compartment in our souls, unhooked from what we do in the world Monday through Friday. Worship isn't a weekly retreat from reality into some escapist enclave; it is our induction into "the real world." Worship is the space in which we learn to take the right things for granted precisely so we can bear witness to the world that is to come and, in the power of the Spirit's transformation, labor to make and remake God's world in accord with his desires for creation. We could never hope to entertain such a commission without the empowering work of the Spirit who tangibly meets us in worship." (Smith, 2-3)

Often, when praying, I slip into worship. My petitions merge into the deep rivers of praise and glory ascribed to God. As that happens I am praying "in the real world," in God's world. Here is where the hope and love and creativity and insights flow.

When God inserted himself into human form on that first Christmas a new prayer-worship movement began. Adoration increased and glorification expanded. The Subject of our praying lives came into greater focus.