Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Prayer and Pastoral Concern
Good morning God,
About this prayer problem...
I've been re-reading the gospels where Jesus teaches concerning prayer trying to make some sense of my reaction to the constantly repeated refrain 'I'm praying for you' .
But, before I go any further, can I clear up a misunderstanding - I am not saying that people SHOULDN'T pray for me, and for others.. I believe that the prayer of the righteous is everything that James suggests it is What troubles me God, is not prayer, or even the affirmation of prayer - it is the need that some people have to repeatedly inform others (usually the person being prayed for) that they are praying.
This seems so contrary to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 vs 6-13.
And it's not just what we do as individuals.. this situation has me rethinking what it is that we think we are doing in our intercessory prayer in Church... After all, Jesus didn't say - Dont Pray - but he did say "when you pray, go into a room by yourself"... so what are we actually trying to do in corporate prayer?
Is our prayer simply a way of reminding ourselves of our calling and vocation to be co-creators, redeemers and reconcilers with you?
Jesus specifically said not to go babbling on.. as though the more we say the more likely we are to be heard.. but shouldn't this be held in tension with Paul's advice to pray without ceasing?
The only 'solution' I have found to this paradox, God, is to offer my whole life to you as prayer. This, of course automatically includes my concerns for justice, sickness, for those I love, those I grieve for etc. It also includes my regrets, my apologies, my hope and my dreams.. Some of my life is communicated by the spoken or written word, but most of it is shared through my engagement with the rest of your creation as your child.
So when I 'pray' for those who are sick, I try to be 'with' them, to include them more fully in my life with you. Wherever possible I reach out and touch, I hug and hold, I laugh and cry and where necessary hold silence and weep. When this is not possible for whatever reason (after all the person might not like being hugged by me!) I offer You my desire and my longing to do so. I try to see them as you, in Christ, desire them to be seen, whole, loved, unique, reconciled and blessed, not sick, injured, broken or dis-eased. I try not to babble, but to speak of what matters. I hold for them, the offer of LIFE in all its fullness, until such time as they chose to claim it for themselves, by affirming in word and deed, who they are in you, rather than who they are in hospital or in the doctor's opinion.
And I guess most of my adverse reaction is because I just want the same for myself.
Thankfully, there are many who are doing just that - who are affirming me in my calling, my ministry and my life with you. Many many members of the church where I share pastoral charge hug me, weep with me and laugh with me and best of all, minister with me by sharing the miracle of faith which binds us together in love. And I rejoice and thank you for it.
I am aware that some have been hurt by my comments on prayer, and I'm sorry about that God. Hopefully our conversation this morning might be accepted as both my prayer of confession and of thanksgiving...
There is a long journey ahead in which we might grow in grace and holiness, and thankfully prayer is one of the means of grace which you have provided us with. So it's bound to be a topic I will return to again and again..
Bless you God,