“I’ll Pray for You.”
Is it a threat – or an offer of help?
Look at the abysmal record most of us have concerning our prayer life. I have tremendous admiration for Sunday School teachers, but I guess for most adults prayer is still a half remembered idea from Sunday School days that all prayer is some kind of speaking in a funny kind of way to God. Usually the prayer begins with “Dear Heavenly Father” and finishes with “through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” And the whole thing is chanted out loud in a sing song voice and God will hear it somehow or other, for that is what God does! The content is usually all requests – prompted by some crisis or other – and the issues that are needed to be covered are put together in this strange formula of a child’s celestial letter. Just like a letter it must always begin and end in a certain way and the process of praying is switched off somehow by the magical word “amen”.
And why do I shudder when someone says they will pray for me or about it? Because most people think they know the Will of God and tell God what should happen! For all I know their prayer could be more a threat than a help.
“Just do this……or just do that….” with the implication that everything will work out right – says who? So often when I hear such prayer requests and take on board the claim that God is prompting the person praying through the power of the Holy Spirit then I end up accepting that God is remarkably lacking in wisdom. And that I cannot believe.
So what about “Listening” – “Be still and know that I am God”? Or what about “Praise”?
Isn’t it about time prayer is taught to adults by adults. It would surely be funny if it was not so sad but nearly always it is presumed that everyone knows instinctively how to pray?
Do read more in “The Death of the Church and Spirituality Reborn“.