Thursday, November 03, 2005

Prayer or magic?

Want to pray more "effective" prayers? Richard Hall considers the abundance of books telling us how to pray more effectively:
But all this is missing the point. Prayer is not a problem to be solved, nor is it a technique to be learned. Prayer is a relationship to be entered into. True friendships are not forged on the basis of what good the other will be able to do you. Friendships exist for their own sake. They are a good end in themselves. We do not pray to God because of what we expect him to do for us. We pray because of who he is, the eternal Father who loves us beyond our understanding and who longs for us to respond to him.

Being focussed on “technique” and “results” in prayer is all about being in control, clinging on to a sense of self-determination and pride. But at best, prayer is the opposite of those things for it means letting go of ourselves and acknowledging our weakness and helplessness. We come to God, not as skilled negotiators or clever bargainers. We come as little children to our daddy.
We do have a name for the mechanical approach to prayer---the idea, as Richard says, that if you "turn the handle the right number of times, at the correct speed and your desire will be met from the little slot at the bottom." It's called magic, and it has no place in Christian discipleship.


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