Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why Pray?

I was reading this today on and had to share:

Q: Why should we pray? I have a hard time being able to believe that talking to God can alter the entire course of the universe.

A: This is an important question, and although it’s very simple and obvious, a good answer would take a book. (I hope to write on prayer in a couple of years.) So, this is a shortened answer. Think of prayer less as functional and more as relational. That’s not to say it isn’t functional, but the functions are themselves relational above all. So, why pray? For the same reasons you talk to a friend, neighbor, stranger, parent, child, teacher, or doctor: to build a relationship, because we live through relationships.

Beneath your question, I think, is an assumption, actually, two: that the universe is a mechanism, and that God is outside of the universe. If you drop those assumptions, I think the question will take on a different feel. For example, what if the metaphor you choose for the universe is, rather than a machine, an unfinished song, or a novel in progress, or a family? Or what if you imagine God, not outside the universe only, but also inside it, part of everything that’s happening? Or how about imagining God as in front of the universe, inviting it into God’s own self, or perhaps imagine God out in the future, sending the present as a gift to the universe at every moment. These thought experiments will help you with this question too, I think.

How Do I Care

It's hard to know in times like these how to really care for people. Tsunami's, flooding, death and disaster. And yet part of me feels so disconnected from all that y'know? It's so far away from me that it doesn't even seem real. Sometimes I think I feel the same way about God. I wonder as He looks down on all of this hurt, I am sure His heart is broken. I know that mine should be too, but if there is anything that I think I struggle with the most, something that I really feel is in contrary to what God wants/feels, I would say that I really just have a hard time caring about things.

It all boils down to narcissism really. I think at the core of my not caring, of my callousness, the real root is that I just don't care about others because I mostly care about myself. It's horrible, I hate it, but it's the honest truth. However I have seen glimmer of hope lately. I can feel it in my heart, the pain, as I watch NBC Nightly News and I see that Indian mother mourning her child, or the Srilankan husband who has lost his whole family. My heart broke for them then. It reminds me of Job's plight. If you have never read Job's story in the Bible, you might want to check it out. Talk about suffering.

It's a process really. Life without Narcissism. I am not there yet, but I want to be. I want to care when I am busy, when my life feels crowded. I want to listen better because I actually care to hear what my wife, my friends are saying. I want to care as Jesus cared, when he met the woman at the well or when his heart broke when he heard that his friend Lazarus had died. I want to care and love well. And not just so that I can look like a better person, but because I think there is real life in caring, in loving people well.