It is simply a fact that many Christians have stopped praying for others. It just doesn’t make sense any more. We don’t mind meditating, but that old-time word, “intercession,” doesn’t work for us.
So, in these posts we’re tinkering with our images of God, and wondering together if there is a way this kind of prayer could make sense again.
Regular readers will not be surprised that I’ll begin with some review and context-setting before actually addressing the question at hand.
Julie, a regular reader, posted on Facebook that this issue is on the front burner in her life, and she wants me to hurry. Oh, sister! Settle in. This may take a while <grin>.
Another thing regular readers will recall, is that one of our bedrock Christian, Jewish, and even Muslim beliefs is the doctrine of God’s transcendence. God is beyond our capacity to contain. When we reduce God to something we can hold (even in our heads), this is the arrogance the ancients used to call “idolatry.”
Every Christian who takes the doctrine of transcendence seriously is in a very real way, an agnostic. We just do not know. We cannot speak with any certitude, about the nature of the Divine.
We regularly experience the Divine, but cannot define it. We experience God the same way we do the wind. We sense wind. It moves us. We cannot contain either, but their movement touches us, stirs us, transforms us.
We experience God-movement, but whenever we talk about God, our words come up short. Our images are always inadequate, always partial, always incomplete.
So, even favored images… like “our Father who art in heaven,” are deeply lacking.
Some posts ago I suggested another way of thinking about God; a way that takes into account the connectedness of everything.
It is just as much of our heritage to think of God as a substrate reality that is in, around, above, below, and connected to everything… as it is to think of God as a Father, way out there in heaven.
In fact, we broaden our experience of God when we anticipate Divine experience always being Present in everything.
As experiencable in wind and waves… as in a cathedral.
As experiencable in rocks and trees… as in a sermon.
As experiencable in each moment; each circumstance… as in a prayer.
“God in us… and us in God.” That’s the way Paul talked about it.
“One with God the way he was one with God.” That’s how Jesus prayed.
“The breath of God animating our very beings.” That’s how Genesis tells the Story.
If we take this part of our tradition seriously, we gravitate toward different ways of thinking about God… which in turn gives us different ways of praying for one another.