The Shadow of the Reformation :: A Short Series on Why Protestants Have Trouble With Prayer

Part Four

All this changed in the sixteenth century with the advent of the Protestant Reformation. The change had been coming for centuries; medieval scholasticism was no stranger to abstract ideas and words, books and debates. But the Reformation turned the corner abruptly, leaving the legacy of interior prayer behind. For most of the last four hundred years the practice largely disappeared . . . until recently.

There is no question that the Protestant Reformation was not only a great gift to the Church but also to society—the democratic reforms arising from the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Anabaptists, and much later, even the Pentecostals, have deeply influenced movements for justice and peace around the world and shaped political ideologies and structures. They also influenced important reforms within the Roman Catholic Church. However, there is a shadow to the Protestant Reformation, and as a Reformed Christian I know this shadow intimately—not only its effect on my own spiritual life, but also its legacy in the lives of those Protestants I’ve taught to pray over the last quarter century, and those who, having grown up in Protestant churches, lost their faith and walked away.

To be continued . . .