The Different States of Our Existence

, , ,


Famed Scholar Walter Brueggemann says, “Prayer is a great antidote to the illusion that we are self-made.” Brueggemann also describes our prayer life as occurring in three possible life states:

  • A State of Orientation. It is in this state when all is right with the world. The state of our being is thankful, and it is from here where prayers of gratitude are derived.
  • A State or Disorientation. In this state our lives have been disrupted and chaos exists. We are not sure where to turn or how we can move forward. This is a state where prayers of petition occur.
  • A State of Reorientation. It is here where have emerged from the valley of despair and the light of dawn shows up in our life. A place where we see resolution and hope returns. Prayers of praise and thanks occur in this state.

Specifically, Brueggemann associates these states of expression to the largest book in the Bible, the Psalms. The Psalms represent the prayers of our ancestors from the ancient past. A collection of poem-like prayers that extend back as far as Moses and span a period of one thousand years, many attributed to King David. In them are expressions of all three life states. Some include all three states and some only one of the three.

In reading the Book of Psalms and its one hundred fifty chapters, you hear the ancient prayers. If your read only five a day, you can finish this section of the Bible in a month, and there is no better way to supplement our prayer lives than to connect them with Scripture. Through this daily combination, our lives move from being random events to being a connected set of providential circumstances.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman