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Prayer - Monday Musing, June 15, 2020

Dear Church,

Prayer. I have been ruminating about prayer lately. That may sound odd. I am a minister after all, shouldn’t I be thinking about and praying a lot?

Prayer has been on my mind since reading Debra Dean Murphy’s Faith Matters column in The Christian Century. Murphy talks about intercessory prayer, “pondering the mysteries of a practice so familiar yet sometimes so vexing: What, theologically, are we doing? Why do we think it matters, and what do we believe it accomplishes?”

There are many types of prayer. While intercessory prayer is saying a prayer on behalf of another person, the questions Murphy asks makes me wonder whether we expect “fixes” for the people and situations that we lift up in our prayers to God. Are we somehow treating God as a slot machine – if we just put in enough coins we ultimately get a payday, right? If God is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing, doesn’t God already know our needs and the needs of others? So why do we pray at all?

We pray because scripture teaches us to pray. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Jesus teaches us a particular prayer. But aside from that, Murphy’s “Why” questions are haunting. Why indeed? Do we pray only because we are “supposed to” pray? Do we sometimes forget to pray?

Regardless of the frequency or type of praying we do, whether we seek fixes from God or revel in the mystery of prayer, prayer brings us closer to God, helps build the relationship we have with God, and isn’t that what praying is really all about? Rather than seek solutions in our prayers, isn’t the point of prayer that we come away changed and feel closer to God? That is a pretty good outcome in my book.

May your prayers lead you closer to God, to Jesus, the One we follow, and may God’s Spirit rest in you and through you in your prayers this week.




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