Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 25, 2015
To Renounce, or to Follow? (In Prayer.)
Today’s reading in my prayer guide is a wonderful addition to the sermon I preached this morning. The prayer guide: renouncing. The sermon: following. And there is a tie-in, believe me.
This morning’s Gospel lesson came from Mark 1, where Jesus calls four fishermen to “Come, follow Me!”
What does the Gospel writer Mark tell us about the fishermen Jesus saw by the Sea of Galilee, Simon, Andrew, James and John? Mark is a man of few words, but the words he does use are important. These four men are involved in their daily business. They are fishermen, and they are in the middle of their daily tasks. Casting a net. Mending nets. Typical work of typical fishing business. Right in the middle of things, Jesus comes up to them and says, “Come, follow Me!”
Do you think this was the absolute first time these four men had ever seen Jesus? I suspect not. I would imagine the brothers might have seen Jesus preaching and teaching when they went into town, stood among the crowd and listened. Perhaps the brothers had discussed what Jesus had said while they were working on the job, in their boats, or mending their nets.
Following? Reframing, reorienting.
Renouncing? Simplifying, streamlining.
To truly follow, I need to focus on Jesus and let go of certain things and behaviors in my life. To truly renounce, I need to focus on Jesus and simplify certain things and behaviors in my life.
As I renounce, as Rev. Howell tells me, I need to deny myself. “Prayer is not just adding more on to an already full life. Prayer will involve subtraction.”  Or, as I see it, prayer requires simplifying or streamlining my life, to make room for prayer. As I follow the Lord Jesus in prayer, this following requires reframing, reorienting. (A kind of metanoia, or redirection.)
God bless all who not only wish to follow Jesus, but also to renounce the world, its works and its ways. God, help me as I strive not only to follow You, but to renounce the stuff my so-full life is filled with. Help all of us. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.
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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.
(also published at www.matterofprayer.net
 James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 80.