Summary: Part 7 (and final) in series "Learning to Pray," this message encourages each individual to pray in ways that they find most natural, that draw them most closely to God.
Learning to Pray, part 7 of 7
Wildwind Community Church
March 6, 2005
[Note to SermonCentral readers: This sermon is based on results of a temperament inventory our people took. If you are interested you can take the inventory online at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp. It is free. Finally, the point here wasn’t to replace God’s word with psychology - the point was to free people to pray in their own ways, using the examples of people of faith in the Bible who each related to God according to their own unique personalities. This was a teaching message that pointed to the examples of Biblical people, but did not explore specific passages.]
We’re going to wrap up our series on prayer today, not because we have said everything there is to be said on it (not even close) but frankly because it’s just a few more weeks until Easter and I want to start taking us in that direction. We can, and will need to, revisit this prayer thing again later on. I can’t say exactly when, but probably a year from now.
I’m going to finish this series today with an approach to prayer many, perhaps most, of you have not really heard of before. Today’s message is called Finding Your Prayer Path: Praying in a way that fits who you are. Ever thought of that before? Has it ever occurred to you that simply because you are you, certain ways of praying will probably come more naturally for you than other ways?
My guess is that this is news to most of you. In fact many people struggle constantly under a burden of guilt because they have tried and tried and tried to pray in the ways that have been taught and have never been able to bring themselves to stick with it. They are beginning to question if maybe they are never going to have an active and effective life of prayer because they just can’t seem to pull it together. Today I want to float to you the exciting possibility that there are certain ways of praying right now, at this moment, that will come more naturally for you than others and that if you can find those ways of praying that are most natural for you, you will experience productivity in prayer you never imagined before.
Now as we look at temperament as it relates to prayer, I will be using information and research done on temperament mostly in the 20th century, but it’s important that you not think that we’re trying to dig up some new approach to spirituality that no one ever thought of before. That could not be less true. It was around 425 B.C. that Hippocrates, the Father of Medical Science, divided personality into four basic temperaments. His theory was that differences in personality were caused by an imbalance in secretions that came from the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. He designated the four temperaments after these secretions:
1. Sanguine – Blood from the heart
2. Choleric – Yellow bile from the liver
3. Phlegmatic – Phlegm from the lungs
4. Melancholic – Black bile from the kidneys
Now 425 B.C. was a long time ago, and it’s amazing that that long ago someone recognized that people differ in their basic perceptions of and approaches to life.
Some of you have probably heard of those temperaments. Now for the sake of time I’m going to skip over a couple thousand years of advancements in personality theory, right up to the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory – a tool developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs in the 1940’s and based on the temperament research of psychiatrist Carl Jung. The MBTI, as it’s called, is still one of the leading personality profiles in use by professionals today, and has more scientific research behind it than any other personality assessment tool. The MBTI evaluates individuals through a series of items on a questionnaire and tabulates responses, with final results assigning each individual a letter along each of four dimensions.
According to the MBTI, introversion means that a person is energized more by their own thoughts and things going on inside them than by the outside world. An extravert, then, would be a person who draws energy primarily from the outside world rather than from their inner world. Not all introverts are shy. On the Myers-Briggs, introverts are people who may function very well around others, but they are quickly exhausted and drained by people, and have to get alone for a while to refresh. How many of you are thinking right now, “Man, that’s me.” Introverts very well MAY be shy, but not necessarily. Extraverts are people who get to a party and say, “Let’s go,” and they’re lit the rest of the night. Being alone drains them – they need others around to stay energized. Any of you like that?