November 28, 2012

Over and Over Again

Category: Prayer :: Permalink

Arthur Paul Boers points out that, while many people object to daily fixed-hour prayers (or, for that matter, to liturgical worship in which much of the service is the same, Sunday after Sunday), repetition has rewards:

It gives us an accumulated store of knowledge upon which to draw, preparing us to receive new insights.  We are not always ready or able to hear a particular Scripture.  But if we repeatedly ponder Scriptures, they can be near our hearts, form our lives, and speak to us when we are ready.  It is important to do this vital preparatory work in an ongoing way so that if there are times of crisis the texts and their meanings will be available to us.

Repetition convinces and converts us.  Hearing something once may not be enough for us to hear, learn, or understand….  We often resist the challenge of Scriptures and need to hear them over and over precisely because of that resistance.  There are things we do not get, understand, or absorb with one or two readings.  We need to hear them again and again.  Perhaps we dislike repetition because it forces us to plumb deeper, and we may dislike hearing over and over again words that challenge us and make us uncomfortable (The Rhythm of God’s Grace, 98-99).

Is repetition boring?  Perhaps literally so.  Boers quotes Eugene Peterson: “It’s a bit like turning a drill.  It might appear boring, but he more you are turning the deeper you get.  It’s literally boring.  But if you only turn it once you don’t get very far” (cited 99).  In fact, much of what is most valuable in life involves repetition and even some monotony.  Boers cites C. W. McPherson, who says that common prayer parallels other

human experiences: an exclusive sexual relationship over  a long time; practice of an art or a skill to mastery; raising a child or mentoring a young person.  All these require a daily, or near daily, commitment.  All involve periods of … monotony as well as occasional periods of disruptive challenge.  All can eventuate in joy (cited 104).

Posted by John Barach @ 1:46 pm | Discuss (0)

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