Sunday, January 30, 2005

Meanderings on prayer

There are some good thoughts on prayer both at The Grace Pages and The Parish, and I jumped in on the discussion. Basically, both struggle with what prayer is and why the model of asking God to do stuff (a little crudely put I admit) can be unsatisfactory.

Marjorie Suchocki has a book called In God's Presence that describes a larger view of prayer. She speaks of seeking God's presence rather than seeking God's intervention. That reasonated with me as God With Us is a cornerstone of my theology. If God is always present, then God does not have to especially intervene upon our asking. God is already intervening, yet our seeking and acting on that presence can affect that intervention as well. As I said in the discussion at the Parish:

"If, for instance, one prays for an uncle's healing, and the uncle does make a full recovery, does that mean that God was only working in the uncle for healing, and only because of that prayer, and now God is just waiting for more orders? What is God doing between interventions and if prayer is all about intervention, what do we pray for if we don't need any?

That's why I think seeking God's presence is a better model. Instead of asking God to be present, one asks how God is present."

For the most part I don't do a whole lot of prayer for intervention nowadays. I lift names and situations to God, but sans flowery talk about how I want God to handle it. Now it's more about hoping that an awareness of God comes (however appropriate to the situation), questioning how I or others may act on or be transformed by that awareness, and a lot of 'thy will be done.'