Friday, January 26, 2007

Kicking off thoughts on prayer.

Sunday I was praying the pastoral prayer. It seemed appropriate to pray for those hurt in the ice storm, those who has lost their electricity, especially in the McAlister area. In that moment I imagined what it must be like to be cold and not have even the ability to plug in a donated heater. What were they doing to stay warm? All those fleeting thoughts in a matter of seconds. For one blip of a moment I had the notion that I should abruptly stop the prayer and say, "We ought to do something." That seemed more spiritual than what I was voicing, more fully human and decent. I didn't. I wonder if it were not God's Spirit interacting with me in prayer, "Tim, you sure do pray pretty. How bout taking up a collection instead."


Anonymous said...

I sincerely appreciate the feeling you had. But I also know that, at least where I go to church, people are generally much more willing to throw money at an "issue" than to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Oh, we "get our hands dirty" in a symbolic way once a year with our annual "community service day," and there are some folks who participate in various "service ministries," but it is always "ministry from above," i.e., a temporary dip into a "lower world" in which we will not stay and cannot really appreciate == all too frequently our service is condescending. I'm not accusing you -- I'm accusing myself. And I don't know how to resolve the tension between solidarity with the poor, for instance, and the desire to keep my family safe and fairly insulated. Chip

Tim Sean said...

Oh, it's alright, Chip. You can accuse me. I've met you once and I like you. :)

I concur with what you are saying. It's embarrasing. I'd rather not even mention it to God unless I am willing to do something. But what? People can't stop their lives and go down there with chain saws. Some can and some do.

I suppose as far as prayer goes, it is a good exercise to consistently aknowledge God and mention, in those moments, the events of ultimate meaning.

And folks do act, often. But not always.

Jeff said...

One of the Bible stories I usually think about, when I think about prayer, is the one were the soldier comes and asks Jesus to heal his masters daughter. I have always thought I need to have that soldiers attitude when I pray. I am sure sometimes God will call us to action, or we might just have the desire and means to serve, but I personnal don't have the physical ability to go help in every situation I pray about. So should I only pray about stuff I can deal with, or should I go to God with assurity in his power like the soldier?

On another prayer topic,
I don't think we can prove prayer works, or prove the point of it. As I think was asked of the speakers at the next meeting. Good luck to them and all, but I find prayer to be an attitude and action of faith. So I can't prove I had faith, and I can't prove that I just didn't get lucky and pray for something that would happen anyways. I can only personnally say reading the Bible, believing certain doctrine, and going to church has done nothing to sustain my believe in a God compared to prayer. It is not about the 99.9999...% of the time that I feel like I am just talking to the shower water, but it is about those times I know something outside of my power happened.

Contemplative Okie said...

As for the connection between prayer and action, I once read somewhere that when we pray about a particular thing, God OFTEN leads us to be the one through whom He works in that situation. I guess that's why the Bible often adjures us to "watch and pray."

On another note...

I used to feel frustrated because I didn't feel like I prayed "enough"--whatever the heck THAT is! But a few years ago, I was "chewing" on a decision I was trying to make, and my pastor asked me, "So, did you pray about it?"

I reacted really strongly to this--it really pissed me off!

Now, I hadn't gone into a prayer closet, posed my question to God, and sat in a trance-like state awaiting his answer. And so, in my pastor's eyes, I hadn't "prayed about it."

Yet, I knew that I HAD prayed about it. As I grasped at words to try and explain myself, I finally blurted out in exasperation, "Life is prayer! It's not something like where you climb into a God-phone-box and dial him up!" And that for me was a light-bulb moment.

What I've come to realize is that God's with me ALL the time. Spiritual growth is all about quieting down and opening up to HEAR the subtle messages of the Holy Spirit. That's 90% of prayer--listening. It seems weird for me to "go pray about something" when God and I are talking with one another throughout the day. Where can I go from--or to--the Holy Spirit!?!

How many church meetings have you gone to where you "open in prayer," proceed to talk about whatever the heck you want to, and then "close in prayer?" And somehow "apostrophe-ing" our meeting with "prayer" supposedly covers our actions in God's blessing. Ha!

I think this stems from this crazy notion that prayer is an activity compartmentalized from the main of our lives.

So when someone asks, "Why pray? What's it about," to me it's simply about having a relationship with God. How can it be a relationship if we don't talk to one another? And when we do on a moment by momen basis, life becomes prayer.

chip said...

“Whatever a man does for the worship of God comes under the head of prayer,” wrote Thomas Aquinas (ST 1-2.108.3 ad 4).

Auguste Sabatier echoed that comment: “Prayer is religion in act—that is to say, real religion” (Sabatier, Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion based on Psychology and History [New York: James Pott, 1913], 27.).

Way to go, Rev-Bruno! :-)

emergentninja said...

Lord teach us to pray. To me, that seems like a fair request. How are we suppose to have the capacity to form words and thoughts that somehow reach the ear of an Ultimate Power? Well now that that is solved, I'll move on. Psychologist suggest that there is a tendency that humans have, and they call it "magical thinking." They define this as a trick that we use to convince ourselves that our thoughts and superstitious behavior has the power to control external events. For the sake of being intellectually honest to ourselves and the academic community, I suggest that this be part of our conversation concerning prayer. Also, there is research that proves "optimism, even when it has a shaky foundation in reality, helps people triumph over adversity.(I am pretty sure this is not what Norman Vincent Peale had in mind when he wrote his Power of Positive Thinking). I need to ask myself, what is prayer and what is positive thinking, or are they sometimes synonymous?