Here are the opening statements of the post:
To hear this from a pastor is very, very troubling to my spirit. This poor man lives in a state of depression, according to his other writings. He finds his life to be dark much of the time.
What he states above is the reason why. This is very, very sad.
What is even more troubling is his fourth and final word of advice on prayer:
This is horrible! It is absolutely false and destructive!
“If you forget to pray for a day, be at peace!” ???
Are you joking? Be at peace? How can I be at peace when I have turned aside from the only source of peace? How can I be at peace knowing that I have cut myself off from God’s Holy Communion to such a degree that I don’t desire to pray for an entire day?
If this happens to a saint, if one who is baptized realizes that this has happened, the first thing to do is to stop everything and fall to one’s knees and call out, “O Lord, help me!”
Prayer is not something that one tries to do. It is something that one does! Trying to pray is ludicrous. Just do it! That is how prayer works.
Why pray? Why did Jesus pray? He prayed because He needed to hear from the Father. That is what prayer is all about.
Consider what may perhaps be the most intense prayer ever prayed, the prayer of the Lord Jesus in His time of deepest distress and desperation:
My God! My God! Where the hell are You?
That prayer allowed Jesus to hear that the Father had not gone anywhere. The prayer, prayed from the perspective of the blindness of our sinfulness, gave the immediate relief that Jesus needed. Notice how His prayer began: “My God!” That was the answer that He needed to hear. And He did hear it so that He later prayed, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!”
I don’t have time this morning to do justice to this, but I want to convey at least this much: STOP TRYING TO PRAY! Prayer is not from you but from God. It is the outflow of faith, which is God’s gift. When you need to pray (which is always, by the way) just do it.
If you need a list to remember what you need to include in your prayers, then those things are not really on your heart as genuine needs anyway. Begin with what is on your heart right now.
If you need a list, the Lord Jesus gave us the Our Father and said “pray this.” He also gave us the Catechism, that is, the 10 Commandments, the Creed, the Our Father, Baptism, Confession, and the Holy Supper of His Holy Communion. Pray these. The General Prayer of the Church in TLH on pg. 23 is also a wonderfully inclusive prayer.
Prayer is not hard. It is as easy as recognizing that one has been baptized into God’s Holy Communion where God has named us as His beloved children, children whom He has commanded to use His name in faith, calling upon Him in every trouble, praying, praising, and giving thanks. If something goes badly, call out to Him. When things go well, give thanks. When temptation comes, pray for help. When sin overcomes, pray forgiveness and believe His promise that you are forgiven in Christ Jesus.
Don’t forget the “Amen!” If you cannot say “Amen” to what you have prayed, keep praying till you can. The Lord will lead you into the awareness of His will if you keep praying until you know that what you have prayed is according to His good and gracious will. Don’t end your prayers with “If it be thy will.” Notice how Jesus prayed. He prayed “if it can be” and “if You are willing” but He kept praying until those temptations went away. Yes, Jesus was sorely tempted to pray these things, but He did not enter into sin by continuing in these temptations. He did not say “Amen” to them. He kept praying until He fully acknowledged the will of the Father and said, “But not My will, but Thine be done!” To this He could confidently say “Amen” and then rose up and went with joy to face the trials and the beatings and the injustice of the cross.
Pray, dear friend, until AMEN is all that is left to say. Then, you won’t have to convince yourself that you have God’s peace, for God’s peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.