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

Part Eight

As it aged, Protestantism lost the sense of mystery that was common to Christianity during most of the first fifteen hundred years of Christian history, a mystery that was still cherished among early Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin. The mystery of God was reduced to thoughts we can think, ideas we can debate, and words we can speak or write or even pray.

The need for theological precision and intellectual rigor required of Christianity a rationalism that was foreign to its experience, especially as Christians were forced to debate not only with Christians of new sects and denominations, but also as they were forced to meet the challenges of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason.

Mystery gave way to certitude. The pursuit of God became largely a head-trip, and prayer now required right thinking, where before all it required was love.

Prayer was relegated to religious services where experts crafted artful sermon-prayers spoken to God on behalf of others who merely listened. Among some Christians the devotional life became a highly rational form of prayer urged upon believers who were to practice “quiet times” so filled with Bible study and intercessory prayer for others that they were rarely "quiet times" at all.

To be continued . . .