Monday, October 09, 2006

piss-weak prayers

I just wrote a little comment (maybe a rave- oops) on The Blogging Parson
about praying Big Bold Prayers in regard to world issues (eg David Hicks, current wars etc)

I seem to get frustrated at church when prayers do not seem to accommodate that we believe in a God that can do anything. A God that can cease AIDS, stop wars, bring fulfillment. Rather prayers seem to become piss-weak with the new fandangled concept of "justice".

Justice is not new and maybe one of you who are more educated than me may be able to fill me in on the origin of the word and the true meaning. But I suppose what I am perceiving is a learned helplessness when it comes to praying. We are confused because on the one hand we are told that faithful prayer consists of 'your will be done Lord' but on the other hand we are also explained that "we do not receive because we do not ask..."

I fear that we pray "bring about your justice Lord..." When we really mean "May every man place their weapons down in places of war, please Lord let not one more person contract AIDS, let not one more child die of hunger, let countries compassionately accept those fleeing their nations....."

Yet we do not pray these prayers but we long for these outcomes.

I wonder if we fear disappointment? I wonder if we fear appearing loopy or too optimistic or too naive? I wonder if we think God is not big enough to deal with something as big as AIDS or war?

Praying for justice is good. But I wonder if praying for specifics is gooder (sic). I wonder if those that hear such specific prayers are shown Christ's justice more clearly?

I know there are times when it is impossible to know what to pray. I remember praying for a client when I worked in child protection and I just didn't know what specific I could pray for them. Every night I was praying and crying that God would just do something anything for this child. I prayed for justice. I wasn't sure if this child should be with their parent or not and I know that at times like these that our sheer 'groaning' and 'sighing' reaches God like incense to Heaven.

In many ways all of our prayers are piss-weak and we are entrusting them with a powerful loving God and that is where their 'power' lies.

What are your thoughts?


Niphal said...

I would contend that it is more of a result of apathy than "pissweakness".

nicole said...

having just finished writing an essay on a problem that sees the death of nearly 2 million people in the developing world every year, i hear you loud and clear rachel! i don't know if i have any answers, though. one thing i have felt increasingly clearly throughout my studies has been the hopelessness of our human efforts to 'fix' the 'third world problem'. i have come to a point where i don't look at hiv or child mortality and see poverty or disease as the problem anymore; all i see is rank sin.

what i'm getting at is that, while we should pray and strive for justice in this world, and go into specifics when we do (and i hope we do, for as Christians we must), i don't know if we can expect our prayers to be met with justice in this world - God is clear that these problems are a direct consequence of sin, and that sin, while defeated, will not be gone until this world is destroyed. the final justice will be the one which entirely answers out prayers, and will be far more 'just' than our tiny shadow-concept for this world.

i guess i just don't think it's 'pissweak' to pray for God's justice without specifying what justice we are seeking - in fact, it might actually be more powerful because we're not limiting our prayers to what we want justice to be. God's true justice is perfect and neverending, and we just can't have that yet in this sad and broken world, even if all our perceived injustices were cured tomorrow.

hmm i think i can summarise that all by saying - maybe we just need to clarify what we mean by justice when we pray for it...?

ok, seriously, i have been typing all day. enough. i'd be interested to hear from others :)

Emma said...

Hey Rach,
I started a comment but it ended up being totally massive so I've just posted it on my blog... I don't have a counter so I promise that this isn't just a nifty way of adding up the hits on my blog! It really is really too long for anything... anyway, yay you!

Alex said...

To echo rachels entry and maybe put it another way: maybe we are sometimes a little to careful in our prayers and temper our boldness and passion with "theological correctness". Now being theologically correct isn't bad, but i sometimes feel ripped off when i or others pray for something less than we all know they/i really are crying out for, just so as not to rock the boat (at church or in ourselves).

It's funny though, because the first example that came to mind is when someone prays for something and then says "but your will be done". It sounds like: "but i'm getting ready to be dissappointed in case you don't answer that one God." Except they were Christs own words on the night before he was crucified. And they sound pretty strong and faithful on his lips huh? hmmm...

note the irony in that this little piece of theology has now tempered the passion of my initial comment. *sigh*

Rachel said...

Dispite my dodgy title (hey look, shock value always draws a crowd!), like i mentioned at the end of the post i dont think praying for justice or for God's will to be done is ever a pissweak prayer.

Despite living in a sinful world, sin hasn't won and we have a righteous and just God that longs to see the end of pain and suffering and is glad when we long of that too in prayer - and believe it can be done!

Rachel said...

In reerading my last comment I mean to clarify that I do not expect perfection in this world. Like Marty said on his blog if AIDS is eradicated it will be soon replaced with another terrible diesese that gravely affects humanity due to 'rank sin' (good one Nicole!). I suppose the point of what I was saying was that there is merit in praying BIG prayers that may sound loopy and improbable - praying for God's justice is faithful and Right but I fear it has become a little overused in the public arena. Imagine if a person asked for prayer that their sick mother would be well and a minister prayed "I will pray that God's justice would be done..." Though that is a 'correct' and faithful prayer- I can't help but wonder if a better prayer would be if the minister prayed for recovery and strength for the mother...? If it was my family dying of HIV/AIDS I woulD likly be asking that God enabled a cure to be made - fast! Perhaps it would take greater faith in that instance to say 'your will be done' but I'm not sure that I would be being sincere... even though it would be the better prayer.

Anyway I'm still not clear on this 100% I want to hold Nicole's comments and my original thoughts simaltanepusly but I'm not sure they gel together.

oh well till THAT DAY....

Felicity said...

THIS is my viewpoint.

I believe that God is so into healin. Read Isaiah 61. I believe that Jesus is The Annointed One to heal up the broken hearted. As believers of Jesus, have God's Spirit living within us. Therefore, so too have we become annointed to call upon God's healing power.

On praying for the sick... I have a story for you. there is a man at my chruch who is so radical in his prayers for healing for ppl. And the healing happens. So many people have been healed by God through this man's prayers. His idea is this: he would prefer to pray for ppl's healing and bear the prospect of having ppl disappointed (if God does not choose that time for you to be healed)than to disappoint the Most Holy and amazing God with a lack of prayer for the sick(which is what he have been commissioned to do). So this man just prays... and the testimonies just flood the church. God is moving so amazingly through this man's life.

I think God usually does this cool stuff in order to woo those to Him, who don't yet believe. Cos He loves them. But He also does it for His children... just to bless them, cos He loves us (Hey, I'm pretty wooed right now :) ).Ultimately, I think the reason God does all this amazing stuff is to call us forth to give Him the glory. To give us more and more and more reasons to say, 'Wow', 'Freak out', 'You Are really cool, God'... and stuff like that. Simply because He deserves nothing less than absolute 'I am in awe of You' adoration (and sometimes we need a bit of a nudge to give Him that praise).

Let's get excited about this, ppl!! !! !! :) :) :)

I also have a story that is even closer to home for me. Only weeks ago I was at church (a different church to the one I just mentioned) and a man stood up and said, 'There is someone in this room with a sore arm'. It was me. I put up my hand and said, 'Yeah, that's me. It's not sore right now, but it has been in the last few days.' Then he said something like, 'is it just... there?' as he indicated the region on his own arm that he believed God was telling him about. It was the exact spot I had been sore. So he prayed. My arm has not been sore in that spot since.

Freak out.

So I think you may have worked out what my stance is on this by now:

Pray BIG... and pray it for God.