March 17, 2006

On Prayer and Passion

Yesterday I was reading this article by Rabbi Gellman on His Dog's Death - Newsweek Society -

I started thinking about prayer. I have been thinking a lot about prayer lately, since I am horrible at it. As hard as I try, I can't seem to focus. So I just keep trying.


I read this statement from Rabbi Gellman, "I attended a rally to stop the killing in Darfur yesterday, and I was moved and deeply saddened and angered by the inability of the so-called civilized world to stop yet another genocide in the Sudan (and also in the Congo). However, I admit that I could not cry for the dead of Darfur the way I cried for Miles. At first I was embarrassed and ashamed at the constrictions of my grief for human beings, and the lavishness of my grief for a dog. Then I slowly came to understand that the reason for the difference was the distance and the invisibility of Darfur compared with the immediate and devastating absence of Miles's head on my feet."

You know we get asked to pray for anything and everything. We are asked to pray for so many things that I am not sure we can even begin to see an answer. Does God really care if your team wins the big game? (Of course we all know that God is an Ohio State fan.) We pray most passionately about those things that are closest to us.

What spurs our prayers on is a connection with the person we are praying for and an attachment to the need. People who have suffered through the lose of a loved one understand the necessary comfort and prayer needed to pray for those in mourning. We find it easier to pray for family members and close friends who are hurting because they are family and close friends. It is easier to pray, when we know the situation, the people, the problems.

For fear of sounding like a prayer heretic; maybe our prayers should be less shotgun and more rifle. What I mean by this is that we pray for anything and everything, but what if we prayed for those things we were intimate with. Not that we don't pray for the people of Darfur (Rabbi Gellman goes on to say, "...I remain convinced that the ability to cry for one tutors the tears for the other.), but we begin to understand that the passion of our prayers follow those things that are most dear to us. We can't pray for every stubbed toe.

I think I am seeing prayer as less a laundry list of things God should do for us or things we want Him to deal with. Prayer is communication with God. It is where God deals with my inner desires; where He asks me to walk humbly with Him. Prayer, as the monastics already know, is all of life. Our entire lives can be prayer. I believe we can take everything to God in prayer. I just know that my passion follows my closeness to an issue.

Maybe this is a call to get closer rather than shift prayer types.

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