Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why Pray?

I was reading this today on anewkindofchristian.com 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.

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