Mornings in the College Chapel

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: THE PRAYER-HABIT Luke xi. 1. ]ORD, teach us to pray." It has often been debated whether Jesus in this passage meant to prescribe the Lord's Prayer as a form, or to suggest it as a type; whether he was dictating a rule, or announcing a principle. However this question may be determined, it is plain that his friends came to him to learn the secret of his own prayer, and to acquire for themselves the habit which was his. He had been praying, the record says, in a certain place, and his disciples say: "Teach us how we may gain for ourselves this refreshment and calm which the habit of prayer gives to you." Nothing is more surprising in one's experience of life than the increasing domination of habit; and nothing becomes more evident as one grows older than the fact that if one does not do a thing habitually, he soon loses the capacity to do it at all. You see a man of books faithfully taking his physical exercise, pulling stupid weights and running weary miles, and it appears a very ludicrous and irksome task; yet the man knows that if he does not keep his muscles tense and supple, he will soon lose not only the capacity for exercise, but also the inclination to it, until at last, the harder he works at his books, the less he will really do. The same fact may be seen in the intellectual life. There are few more impressive paragraphs in biography than the passage in which Mr. Darwin tells how he was once passionately fond of music, but through abandoning the habit of hearing it, he at last came to find it jarring and unwelcome. His mind, he said, had become atrophied on this side of life, and had made him a machine for observing and registering facts. The same law holds in the deeper experiences of the religious life. We hear much of the reasons which lead men to abandon pr...
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