Saturday, November 07, 2009

An aside on the nature of prayer…

And when I mention that I needed to pray, I am referring to prayer in what I understand to be its most essential, simple and rudimentary reality, as a relationship in which the authentic (or, one could say, original) identity of a person is affirmed by the Word of God. Prayer, as I mean it, has its integrity in recall of the event of one’s own creation in the Word of God.  Prayer, in this significance, is distinguished from the vulgar or profane connotations that have, unhappily, accrued to the term. Prayer, for instance, has nothing, as such, to do with utterance, language, posture, ceremony or pharisaical style and tradition. Prayer is not ‘talking’ with God, to God, or about God. It is not asking God for anything whatsoever. It is not bargaining with God. It has no similarity to conjuring, fantasizing, sentimental indulgence, or superstitious practice. It is not motivational therapy…

More definitely, prayer is not personal in the sense of a private transaction occurring in a void, disconnected with everyone and everything else, but it is so personal that it reveals (I have chosen this verb conscientiously) every connection with everyone and everything else in the whole of Creation throughout time. A person in the estate of prayer is identified in relation to Alpha and Omega to the inception of everything and to the fulfilment of everything (cf. Romans 1:20, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Revelation 22:12). In prayer, the initiative belongs to the Word of God, acting to identify, or to reiterate the identity of, the one who prays.

…Prayer, in quintessence, therefore, is a political action—an audacious one, at that—bridging the gap between immediate realities and ultimate hope, between ethics and eschatology, between the world as it is and the Kingdom which is vouchsafed.

A Simplicity of Faith: My Experience in Mourning by William Stringfellow, 1982, pp. 67,68. (With thanks to Hugh Valentine)

3 comments:

  1. Wooh. I LOVE the part about it not being a disconnected act and yet so personal "that it reveals ... every connection with everyone and everything else in the whole of Creation throughout time"

    Yeah, baby. Even though I haven't got a clue, I agree :) The longer I go on, the less I actually really know what prayer is, the more lovely it becomes to me.

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  2. "The longer I go on, the less I actually really know what prayer is, the more lovely it becomes to me."

    Innit, though? What!?

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  3. Wow! I have never read such a breathtaking description of prayer before. Wow! I think it will take a while to digest it.

    Thanks for sharing it, Mike.

    [I remember this Stringfellow from my grad school days. He was active in the peace and anti-racism movement in the States.]

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