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

Part Nine (Conclusion)

Of course, there are plenty of Protestant Christians who have experienced some taste of the Divine and who have found ways into stillness before God. But the shadowy legacy of the Protestant Reformation and its interaction with the Enlightenment meant that the way to God became a matter of ideas and words and activism. Prayer became something the believer did on behalf of others or as a rational and verbal expression of devotion.

Gone was the mystery and awe, the intimacy and simplicity of the prayer of the heart—a wordless, contemplative, loving encounter with the Beloved—which had characterized Christianity for most of its history.

Astonishingly, the same Reformation whose ideas fostered democratic reforms throughout Europe, making the political process accessible to all people, more often than not had the opposite effect spiritually: the ordinary believer often felt she didn’t know enough to pray, or was intimidated to open his mouth because he wasn’t sure he had the right words.

But we are moving today toward a recovery of prayer.