Ten Provocative Propositions on Prayer
With which of the following would you agree? Disagree? Re-word?
1. There is no more outrageous and presumptuous idea than that we ought to be able to pray. Prayer is an impossible possibility. Prayer is miracle, prayer is resurrection from the dead.
2. Prayer is a completely useless activity, a total waste of time (Herbert McCabe). To ask if prayer “works” is to reduce it to a kind of magic. Prayer is not in the least bit necessary; it is more than necessary.
3. We never begin to pray, we always enter into prayer that has already begun before us and without us, the prayer of the church. We may pray alone, but we are never alone when we pray. “Our Father . . .”
4. Prayer is a dangerous activity. In prayer we do not enter the kitty’s basket but the lion’s den. Prayer is a transformative activity. In prayer we are changed - and change hurts.
5. Prayer is not a private activity; indeed prayer is the most political activity in which a Christian can engage. “To fold your hands in prayer is to begin an uprising against the world” (Karl Barth).
6. It is nonsense to suggest that prayers of thanksgiving trump prayers of petition. We are children of God. What would you think of your own child if she always went about thanking, never asking, pestering? You would think, “What an obnoxious little goody two-shoes!”
7. Yet prayer does not begin with the mouth, prayer begins with the eyes. Prayer begins with simple attentiveness.
8. It is also a nonsense to ask whether or not God answers prayer. The Father is the object of prayer, the Spirit is the subject of prayer, the Son is the predicate of prayer. How then can God not answer his own prayers? If God seems silent, it is only because he is listening - and thinking about his answer. And as for those answers, William Temple said, “When I pray, coincidences happen.”
9. Do you have arid times of prayer? What else! Wherever did we get the idiotic and disabling idea that prayer must be a richly rewarding experience?
10. Ultimately, the question of prayer is the question of God: What kind of God do I believe in?
(HT: Kim Fabricius)