Let’s join the Trappists

I’m not called to join the Trappist monks – but I am.

Growing up, I had a low regard for monasteries and the monastics who lived within them. The reclusiveness of monks and nuns seemed, well,  odd. Somewhere in my naivete I concluded that they chose the monastic life because they feared “real life.” Their choice to form their own safe and regulated communities reinforced my ignorant assumption that they were perhaps unable to survive in the rough-and-tumble of the regular world.

My unfair characterizations hit the wall when I read the story of Thomas Merton who died nearly 50 years ago.

Thomas MertonMerton, a Trappist monk, would spend months in solitude and silence then return to Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky and write profound insights out of the overflow of his prayerful experience. But the real purpose of those extended seasons of prayer-filled isolation humbles me.

The Trappists—and other monastic orders—believe earnestly that their prayerfulness is not an escape from the world but the deepest possible engagement with it. Indeed, their prayers form the very glue that holds this world together. Their prayers of intercession may well be the only barrier between the evil we already see and unimaginable evil that might be unleashed in overwhelming proportions if God did not restrain it in response to the earnest prayers of His people.

The monks are not running from anything. To the contrary. They choose lives of devotion and prayer precisely that they might find themselves on the front-lines of the cosmic struggle between good and evil. Their prayerfulness is our preservation. Ironically, their retreat from culture is for the sake of culture.

Which of us shares such a grand and majestic view of prayer?

Do we see our prayers as the very glue that holds this world together? Do our prayers have strategic significance, or are they merely casual chats with God about personal concerns?

I’m not called to join the Trappist monks – but I am. Christ invites me—and you—to intercede for the deliverance and redemption of the world; our families, communities, and nations. Our prayers today may restrain the very evil that thrives in the midst of complacency.

Pray with confidence that your words reverberate in heaven and move the heart of God to protect and keep the souls of men. Your prayers form the spiritual fortresses for this world.

Let’s pray.

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8 Responses to Let’s join the Trappists

  1. David, I wholeheartedly agree. Probably the greatest work we can accomplish is our labor in prayer. Prayer in Jesus name is the most powerful force in the world! When words and deeds fail, prayer can tear down strongholds, move mountains and change hearts!

  2. Toni Dunning says:

    Thank you for these profound and challenging thoughts. I have a dear family member who is engaged in a battle for her very soul. Raised as a believer, her world was shattered in February when everything in her world changed—no more innocence, safety, security, trust, or consistency, and so many questions about protection. She is understandably angry and in her rebellion says, “You can take away everything. It doesn’t matter; I can not be good.” I was moved to pray for her last night when sleep eluded me—and with good reason. Your writing captures the problem perfectly. Thank you for the encouragement, support, and challenge.

  3. Tim Riter says:

    And, some Trappists brew some very fine beer. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a link?

  4. Phil McKinley says:

    Preaching on the prayer in Acts 4 this weekend. Thanks for the insights.

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