Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Prayer

I am still struggling with how prayer works in the life of the believer and in the world and in the mind of God.  

I believe God has chosen to cooperate with us in this work of his - that the future is open and collaborative. However, I also believe that the world is fraught with radical horrors that the believer is exposed to along with all the rest of humanity and that God cannot or will not rescue us from these immediate catastrophes.  So what is prayer for if not to heal the sick or rescue the dying or protect those we love?  I don't know.  Personal transformation?  Communion? Inner peace?  I suppose so.  But I find it hard to be motivated to prayer for these purposes.  Perhaps because so much of modern Christianity has driven us to only think of prayer in utilitarian, Western, Modern ways that Eastern ways of thinking of prayer are lost to us without considerable work.

Perhaps prayer is to calm us, center us, help us think clearly how we are to think, speak and act in the world to be in accordance with the beliefs to which we aspire.

It's interesting how seemingly disparate ideas come together and coalesce around other ideas.

My reading on the topics of open theism, universalism, radical horrors, moral luck and weak volitionalism all swirl around my questions and beliefs on the question of prayer.

<b>Moral luck</b>: If we are to pray for healing and wisdom, is the person unlucky enough to be born in a hindu culture cut off from healing and wisdom?

<b>Open theism</b>: If God doesn't know the future and instead invites us to participate with him in its determination, shouldn't prayer be especially powerful and effective?

<b>Radical Horrors</b>: if prayer is indeed effective in the way it is discussed in much of Scripture, shouldn't we see some measurable difference in the lives of believers and prayers with respect to radical horrors?

<b>Weak-Volitionalism</b>: If most of our "free will" decisions are in reality "hard-wired", how contingent would a loving God have made our existence on a prayer life that we may not by our own will be able to choose to participate in?

1 comment:

len said...

It seems to me that Jesus rooted prayer in our relationship with God. He established that relationship by His use of the word Father. In Jesus' teaching, we pray and can expect God to hear and answer because He is our Father.

I have the same struggles and questions about prayer that you do. But I ultimately go back to the simple teaching of the sermon on the mount as my foundation for prayer. God is our Father and we are to relate to Him as such.