Private Worship and Devotions

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
This may be a little unconfessional, but I have a kneeler in my home office and I use it during devotionals. I read scripture, I pray scripture, I use the few prayer books in print for the Reformed Christian and yes, when in deep study, I find it helpful to burn incense and light a candle. It helps focus my mind.

Am I alone in this?

Yours in the Lord,

jm
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
What are the "few prayer books" you use that are from a Reformed perspective?

As for the kneeler, I don't think that's a problem. People kneel when they prayer and, if they're older or have bad knees, a kneeler would be of positive use. As for the candle and the incense, that might be more debatable, I think.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I find music very helpful sometimes. But I am very careful not to attribute the emotion the music stirs as the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. I think I've learned to know the difference, although I'm sure there is still some mixture of my human spirit with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

2 Kings 3:15
But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Given the choice between candlelight and a neon tube, I'll take the candle any day. As long those circumstances you surround yourself with don't become a necessary part of worship in your mind--that is, if you don't begin to feel that your worship would not be so unless you had the candle and incense--then make yourself comfortable so your mind doesn't wander. I do my best private devotion in a comfy armchair with a cup of coffee and soft lamp near the woodstove, but none of those things are parts of my worship.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Superstitions and will worship begin with innocent customs generations prior. I would ditch the mood setting stuff whether auditory or oculary at the very least if others are affected and even if not because the heart is a factory of idols and these things that affect the senses especially are the things idols are made of.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
2 Kings 3:15
But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
Ed, I get where you’re coming from but I’m going to speak strongly against using Scripture this way to support a personal practice and experience. The one who called for the minstrel was a prophet. The music itself was an inspired means for this particular instance and played a prophetic role. But now the office of prophet, inspired prophecy itself, and so of course this means of prophesying (use of a musical instrument) have passed away and in fact have been abolished under a new and better administration. Why speak in a way that can imply that these things put away by the Holy Spirit for a better way! can be brought back?

I believe our private and family worship are regulated by God’s word as is public worship.

@JM, the draw and attractiveness of the use of these OT ceremonial means is not new but there is a real danger in it.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I have a cup of coffee every morning before I attempt much engagement with anything. I prefer daylight to candlelight. I have long loved sunlight better than anything else on the planet, though the moving shadows it makes out of leaves and even stalks of grass come close. The sun, and the coffee, definitely help me to feel more grateful, more alert and responsive. I can imagine a posture and incense and a certain kind of light doing the same for other people.

But someday I may be deprived of all those and yet I won't be deprived of any iota of the content of my faith, of God's nearness and love. I recognise that there is danger for me to assume that these better frames of mind equal my faith or His presence -- which is another way of walking by sight.

Coffee, chocolate, even sunlight, necessary as sunlight is to me, add nothing to the work of Jesus. Nor do my alertness and responsiveness, though I'm very grateful for those. I'd rather have trials and some sense of God's nearness than feel God is faraway and be comfortable. I expect that if I get over-dependent on my *sense* of Jesus love as if it *added* anything to His love, that God will deal with that in me. I'm under tutelage, and that is such a comfort. But I also recognise that all my relationships are easier if I'm in a grateful, responsive, alert frame of mind -- not just my relationship with God. Ruben is also happy for me to have my morning coffee :p.

I think it would be a sign I'd gone too far if I made a spiritual ritual of those helps to my frame of mind, included others in them, etc. I would be enshrining my feelings as content or practice of faith. And we walk by faith, not feelings. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

I think our familiar little creaturely habits do come to be part of that stabilising sense of being at home with Him through the changing days that God gives each one of us. But the home He is is so much more than this place on my couch with all the windows open and a cup of coffee and my devotional books, though I am so very grateful for this. (edit: what I am trying to express is that my little rituals are so much smaller than God. He meets me in my smallness, where some little things make me *feel* more in tune with big things. But if I box in my apprehension of His nearness to certain conditions, or particularise the way in which I can come to Him, I am severely limiting my apprehension of God's heart for me everywhere and under any conditions, crippling my own faith.)
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I'm with Chris (@NaphtaliPress) on this. With candles and incense, I believe you venture into the realm of will-worship. The God we approach in the church house is the same we address in closet. He is not to be served by our innovations in either.

I see nothing wrong with a kneeler. I like to kneel in private prayer. And I will usually have a pillow under my knees. I take it a kneeler could serve the same purpose. But I would be cautious about attaching some inherent virtue to kneeling. One may be as proud as a pharisee on his knees. Indeed we are never more liable to pride than in the outward exercises of piety.

As for books containing forms of prayer, I believe they can be useful. I have some I love very much—Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer, The Valley of Vision, Family Prayers by William Jay, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer—These are excellent resources for growing in the grace of supplication. But as with other things, if relied upon too much, they may impede our prayers if one never exercises one's self in pouring out one's heart to God freely. God is more pleased with the confused prayer of a contrite heart than the souring eloquence of a prayer vainly repeated.
 
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W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree with Mrs. Heidi in that I prefer sunlight over any artificial light. I purposefully have the shades in my room as high as they go, and my room is only dark when it is very dark outside. I read my Bible in the mornings sitting in old chair from the Baptist church near me from when they replaced their chairs. It's an old choir chair I think. I usually have to be awake for a little bit to be able to process what I am reading. When I do have purposeful times of prayer (which I fail often at planning) I just do it in a dark room. I usually read from a Psalm or the Westminster Shorter Catechism before I pray. Psalm 143 has been particularly beneficial to me while praying.

Lord, let my pray'r prevail, to answer it make speed;
For, lo, my sp'rit doth fail: hide not thy face in need;
Lest I be like to those that do in darkness sit,
Or him that downward goes into the dreadful pit.

Because I trust in thee, O Lord, cause me to hear
Thy loving-kindness free, when morning doth appear:
Cause me to know the way
Wherein my path should be;
For why, my soul on high I do lift up to thee.

Ps. 143:7-8 SMV
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
What are the "few prayer books" you use that are from a Reformed perspective?

As for the kneeler, I don't think that's a problem. People kneel when they prayer and, if they're older or have bad knees, a kneeler would be of positive use. As for the candle and the incense, that might be more debatable, I think.
Valley of Vision, Piercing Heaven, prayers from various Reformed and Puritan authors.
 
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