"I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours' prayer" -Martin LutherSo it's a great quote, right? This is one of those quotes that finds itself in a sermon in every church in America at least once a year. Then we all say "Wow," and then start hating Martin Luther. Seriously, what kind of pompous jerk says something like that? If someone I knew said that, they would be destroyed. So why does Martin Luther get a free pass? Does he just have enough spiritual credit built up to say really pious things like that?
Two things disturb me about my response to this quote:
- I've realized that, if someone says something especially pious, I automatically assume they are lying.
- I actually don't believe doing this sort of thing as a practice is possible, beneficial, or important.
I'm a fairly upbeat person, but I tend to be fairly sensitive to malarky. Heavy handed use of cliche drives me a little bit crazy; it doesn't feel authentic. But I don't necessarily have the liberty to assume that people, especially those who I consider part of my spiritual family, are inauthentic.
But perhaps more disturbing is the realization that I don't believe it's possible to pray three hours every morning. Of course I know it's possible, but I think it's crazy and unreasonable. But why? Why do I think radical devotion to spiritual guidance is so bizarre? Perhaps I am really just discouraged that I can't say the same, and I've tried.
I don't care to create an impossible legalistic standard, but I do think there is some value in reevaluating what we, or at least I, consider "normal" or "adequate" behavior as Christians.Instead of feeling ashamed and defensive when I hear crazy statements like Luther's, what if I was just happy that someone had that kind of spiritual discipline? What if I actually set my standard for normal behavior on God? What if I sought the kind of lifestyle that He has for me?