Thursday, October 8, 2009

Twenty Ambivalent Suggestions About Prayer

1. Prayer is something we rarely want to do.
2. Prayer is made possible only by the commandment of God (Luther).
3. Prayer does not put us in a position to receive God's grace.
4. God's grace has already been given in totality through Jesus Christ.
5. Prayer is the obedience that comes by God's initiative.
6. Faith justifies, and those who put their faith in Christ will pray.
7. And yet in a certain sense it can be said that prayer merits grace.*
8. For just as my earthly father would have never given me the Church Dogmatics for Christmas unless I had asked, so my Heavenly Father will only give me certain graces if I ask.
9. Prayer is thus something done most fruitfully on the plane of reality that has God as our Dad and we as His Children.
10. Prayer is an evidence of justifying faith, for only a justifying faith would dare to enter a milieu where the judge of all the earth is addressed as "Abba".
11. Prayer is a grave risk and a danger. When a teacher hurt my feelings in elementary school, I told my father and watched him grow incensed to the point of calling this teacher to account. So too we have the power to convince our Abba to wreak havoc on those who do us wrong (Psalter).
12. Prayer renews the mind to synthesize the passages of servanthood and sonship. They no longer contradict.
13. Prayer is to call God to task on the promises His own lips freely uttered (Luther).
14. Prayer moved God to forgive all of the sins of Manasseh and dredge him up from the dungeons of a distant land into renewed Kingship.
15. Prayer opened the mouth of the great fish to vomit Jonah out; alive and safe.
16. Prayer persuaded God to split open the Red Sea and provide safe passage for those who prayed.
17. Prayer gave Hezekiah fifteen extra years of life.
18. The prayer of Jesus brought Peter back from apostasy to faith.
19. Prayer is a clue to the mystery of Christ's being. "He always lives to intercede.."
20. Since the Lord of life "lives to intercede", the greatest task of our life is to pray.

*I mean grace in no.7 in a loosely catholic sense. The grace which provides justification cannot be merited at all.

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