Monday, December 22, 2008

N. T. Wright on Prayer

Over the weekend I read again some marvelous thoughts on pray written by N T Wright in his book “Simply Christian.” His words both encouraged and convicted me as I’ve been praying in preparation for Christmas Eve:

For the pantheist prayer is simply getting in tune with the deeper realities of the world and of oneself. Divinity is everywhere including within me. Prayer is therefore not so much addressing someone else, who lives somewhere else, but rather discovering and getting in touch with an inner truth and life that are to found deep within my own heart and within the silent rhythms of the world around. Pantheistic prayer has certain stately nobility about it. But it isn’t Christian prayer.

For the Deist prayer is calling across a void to a distant deity. This lofty figure may or may not be listening. He, or it, may or may not be inclined, or even able, to do very much about us and our world, even if he (or it) wanted to. All the Deist can do is send off a message, like a marooned sailor scribbling a note and putting it in a bottle, on the off-chance that someone out there might pick it up. That kind of prayer takes a good deal of faith and hope. But it isn’t Christian prayer.

Living as a Christian means living in the world as it’s been reshaped by and around Jesus and his Spirit. And that means Christian prayer is a different kind of thing – different from both the prayer of the pantheist, getting in touch with the inwardness of nature and that of the Deist, sending out messages across a lonely emptiness.

Christian prayer is about standing at the fault line [between heaven and earth], being shaped by the Jesus who knelt in Gethsemane, groaning in travail, holding heaven and earth together like someone trying to tie two pieces of rope with people tugging at the other ends to pull them apart… No wonder we give up so easily. No wonder we need help.
(pg 163, 164)

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