Dear John, day 3


Your experience with vanities sounds like mine with my addictions.  When my own discrimination and decision making is part of the moral calculus of what I should engage in, I’m lost to the addiction.  I can even be recognizing, beyond my thinking brain, that I’m just justifying my actions.  I keep on justifying them.  In response, I’ve taken to rule making, at least for now.

The current addiction I’m shedding–or at least coming to terms with (Yes, that’s probably a justification.)–is to news.  After I read the paper my prayers are distracted by worry and the world’s judgments.  Since I pray first thing in the morning, I can easily keep to a rule of no news before that.  Our current delivery is about 6:20 am.  That gives me the paper for breakfast, after prayer time.John Woolman

On Sundays, the rule I use is not before worship.  When worship was at 11:00 am, that was harder than currently.  Now I just have to hold out until my 9:00 departure for the 9:45 meeting.

I’ve found that if I even touch the newspaper, I start to temporize and experiment.  “Would reading the funnies count?”  “What about the sports section?”  “Here’s a human interest story; I’ll limit myself to just it.”

I usually end up reading more.

If I really want to find a life of continuous prayer, what will I have to do?

I see rule making as a means to clear my heart to remain open so that I can listen and follow guidance from God.  The guidance of Christ that sustains or provides judgment is the true remedy for this addiction–and others.  I make rules just to provide a guidance from outside the immediate moment that will head off the temporizing of my addiction laden personal discriminations.