Reading and Praying as Privileges

I’ve been reading an interesting little book on life during the Great Depression called Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.  Kalish explains how she developed her love for reading while living on an Iowa farm.  Her mother and grandparents played a huge role in encouraging her love for reading through a very unique approach:

Without knowing it, the adults in our lives practiced a most productive kind of behavior modification.  After our chores and household duties were done we were given “permission” to read.  In other words, our elders positioned reading as a privilege-a much sought-after prize, granted only to those goodhardworkers (sic) who earned it.  How clever of them” (65).

I’m recognizing that anytime I make reading a requirement or a duty, it loses a little bit of its luster.  Take for instance my New Year’s resolution, to read 52 books this year, approximately one per week.  Because I’m trying to keep up a certain pace, I’m losing a little bit of the excitement over reading because I realize that I’m on a schedule.  It also makes me careful about the books I choose.  To be honest, right now, I’d probably be choosing a lot more Victorian novels because that’s my particular taste at the moment, but because I read those at a much slower pace (and they tend to be extremely long), I really can’t devote too much time to those.

I wonder how much this applies to our spiritual life as well.  When we make our daily devotions a duty, instead of a “much sought-after prize” and “privilege,” do they lost a little bit of their luster?

Partly, it’s a matter of perspective.  Just as Kalish’s elder’s recognized, anything could become a joy if you put it in the right perspective.  This is how Paul could delight in his sufferings, for the sake of Christ.  It’s how Jesus could endure the pain of the cross, for the goal of our salvation.

It’s also a matter of heart.  Positive thinking can only get us so far.  At some point, we’ve got to ask Jesus to change our heart, to alter our tainted perspectives to line up with his divine perspective.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a PRIVILEGE to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Good thoughts Amy…I’m shooting for about 1/2 that many books this year and have been more selective as well (although I don’t read the lengthy novels like you do).

    Do you think having this goal though has helped you in other ways, even if as you say some of the excitement is not there ?

    AL: I’m sure it’s been beneficial, as most disciplined pursuits tend to be. I think I’ll mull that question over and save it for a later blog post, since I’m not exactly sure myself, how this has been helping me so far (aside from the value in each individual book I’ve read).


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