I sat next to a “religion” prof at a Catholic University (remain unnamed) on a flight recently. We had a delightful chat across the country. (She told me I was the most “interesting” person she had ever met on a flight – that was right after I told her I had cleaned more toilets than anyone according to a recent Google search!)… In chatting, she mentioned she was convinced that Luther might have had mental instability problems – she thought he “heard” voices.
I assured her that thought was not widely held to – that his talking with the door shut was merely his prayer style. I went on to say he not only spoke out loud, he sometimes even threw things. More than once he emptied an entire fresh inkwell onto his office wall at the Wurms Castle. His journal explains he saw the Enemy appear to him and he was out to rebuke him! (Luther also had gas problems constantly – when passing gas as he lectured, he commonly told his laughing students he was merely rebuking the Enemy!)
Luther walked as he prayed, he wrote in his journal, he went from very loud, to very quiet.
If he were alive today I suggest he would use several technologies as part of his prayer approach we would also benefit from:
- a laptop to capture lengthy “inspired thoughts” as they come during prayer onto our digital journals
- a digital recorder to capture short thoughts as they come to us in prayer
- something to write with – maybe a Levenger note card system that is simple to use that will allow us to capture ideas quickly and later refer to – especially those of us who speak often – my best ideas for speaking / writing are often born out of prayer times… how about you?
- An iPod (the Reformation Edition? Quick, someone call Apple – is this version 6?) to listen to music as we pray, with noise-blocking headphones. I, for one, can’t handle total silence. Sorry to all of you wannabe monks out there – but silence is NOT golden to everyone. First thing in the morning, yes, I am still. But later in the day when in a different mode when I stop to pray, I can’t handle the quiet. Can you relate?
- Lastly – a phone nearby. Sometimes, I know that I know that I must act upon something that is urgent and needs attention NOW. Not a red herring that is stopping my prayer, but a strong reminder – “Call so and so and seek forgiveness… do so now while I have my finger on this with you.” I can’t tell you how many times this has happened in my life.