Thursday, 04 June 2015 15:01

A System for Prayer

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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The diagram apparently was crafted over 1000 years ago - part of a book that was placed on sale by Manhattan’s Les Enluminures Gallery, a dealer in medieval manuscripts, a book written on vellum with a rather unique first page, according to a report on the Religion News Service website, which likens the circular diagram to a game board.

The RNS report surmises that over a hundred years after the book, containing only the gospels, was commissioned by an abbess in Liesborn, Germany, someone opened the Gospels, which would have been used primarily for display and oath-taking, to the blank first page, set a compass needle in the center and began drawing concentric circles.


The report calls this the “Liesborn Prayer Wheel” and describes the content.  The words are in medieval Latin.  The outer circle contains the words, “The Order Of The Diagram Written Here Teaches The Return Home.” The description continues:



…The next is labeled “Seven Petitions” and contains seven quotations from the Lord’s Prayer (“Daily Bread,” “Will Be Done,” “Kingdom Come.”) In the third circle, seven “Gifts Of The Holy Spirit” (“Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel … ”) run clockwise in red, interspersed with seven events in Christ’s life (Incarnation, Baptism, Passion Day of Judgment) in black. The fourth segment contains seven groups blessed in Jesus’ Beatitudes (“Meek, Poor in Spirit, Mourn”) and — opposite each — their rewards (“Inherit the Earth,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Be Comforted”). Finally, at the center, surrounding the pinhole of the compass, is the word “DEUS,” or God.



Lauren Mancia, a medievalist at Brooklyn College who has examined the Wheel, is quoted as saying that schematic prayer guides were more common in later centuries, but said that the diagram suggests that monks and nuns were “using a mnemonic device to remember and internalize, or even to make an inner journey.”


The Religion News Service piece asked some pertinent questions, such as: Clearly the nun was supposed to find her way from the Lord’s Prayer to God; but how? Did she read her way around one wheel and move in to the next? Or did she drill downward along each of the wheel’s “spokes,” and then start again on the next spoke? Or were the seven events in Christ’s life the key to the diagram, connecting its prayers to the Gospels that make up the rest of the book?


This diagram is part of a book with a reported $6.5 million pricetag, and can inspire us to think about the work of prayer, which has inestimable value for us.


Here are three takeaways from this story:


This wheel points to a system of prayer and approach to God.  There are all sorts of ways that we can keep focused on our relationship with Christ, and having a disciplined action plan can enhance our experience and fellowship with Him.  It may involve a number of components, such as a specific, intentional time, commonly called a “quiet time,” when we in essence meet with God and engage in spiritual activity.  You could keep a prayer journal or use a prayer guide to help keep track of the requests for which you are praying.  Or, your system could involve some sort of Bible reading guide to lead you on your spiritual quest.  You might even memorize Scripture through a device such as the Topical Memory System.


Certainly, there is no “one size fits all” approach for our encounter with God, but we recognize that consistent fellowship with our Savior and engagement with His Word leads to spiritual growth.  The Lord wants to lead us by His Holy Spirit into a more vibrant, rewarding walk with Himself, and provides the tools and direction in order to do that.  Last month, I wrote about the potential of prayer.  But, if we want our prayers to be effective, it is important that we are intentional in our prayer efforts. Consistency and intensity are essential elements in a productive prayer life.


There is a movie that is due to be released in August called “War Room,” that is designed to illustrate the effectiveness of a prayer strategy.  The movie is the latest from the Kendrick Brothers, who brought us “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” and other films.   I certainly embrace the concept of a prayer strategy, and by staying focused on the areas in which we are praying, we can see the Lord do incredible things in our lives.  


Finally, change in our lives is not haphazard - I believe it results from the development of effective means to connect with God.  If we want to change, if we want to grow closer to Christ and more like Him, it’s important that we yield to Him and allow Him to do His work.  Time spent with Him can help align our hearts and our lives with His truth.




Last modified on Monday, 15 June 2015 15:03
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