Thursday, March 22, 2007

praying without ceasing

I am going to write a little about an email conversation that I’ve been having recently about praying. The topic is: can you pray for people that you aren’t connected to and what is the theology that supports this practice. Apparently – and this is a quote: The Scriptures speak of praying without ceasing, and praying for the whole creation.

I quote to pull in the section about praying for the whole creation. This seems like it says that you can pray for people you aren’t connected to but I read it as if it says something different than that. Praying for the whole creation feels like we are praying for something larger than a piece of the whole creation. Praying for the whole creation doesn’t seem the same as praying for person X who is struggling with cancer and is the brother in law of the guy who sits down the pew from me.

And I’m not saying I don’t want to pray for person X, I’m saying I don’t understand what I’m doing when I do that. Psychologically, what am I telling my brain in that moment? Spiritually, what am I telling God in that moment? Am I expecting that my prayer will make a difference and where do I believe that difference will be made? And am I (probably yes) making this too literal? Isn’t it easy to pray for someone imagined? Is it developing the habit of thinking of the world as bigger than us and our stupid little lives? I’m sure the answer is that it is all of these things.

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