The Pursuit of Inward Bleeding

April 2008 - View from the U
by Margaret Clay

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I recently wrote a paper on two famous 17th Century poets, John Donne and George Herbert. Both clergymen, they wrote poems that are quite similar in content, but they could not differ more in their style of expression—Herbert is more traditional and reverent where Donne is dramatic and unexpected in his discourse with God. In comparing the two, I felt that while both types of prayer are equally important, often times we can find ourselves stuck in a rut when praying to God, saying the same traditional prayers almost mindlessly, having a formula for our quiet time that is no more than a checklist, and never listening to hear God’s response. I was challenged by Donne’s starvation and fervency for God to change his heart and restore a “fire in [his] bones” (Jeremiah 20:9).

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