Archive for December 18th, 2007

Will you please be there for me

One of the things I’ve got involved with since coming back has been a wee prayer meeting with a few of the lads on a Monday night. It seems to have developed the title of ‘The Likely Lads’ on the summary emails. It may have at one point been called ‘Remaining Men Together’ as an obscure Fight Club reference, but to be honest it was only me pushing that idea.

Prayer remains one of the great mysteries of the faith. I’ve been doing it since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It remains in common usage even amongst non-believers or nominalists. Us evangelicals have by no means full claim on it.

One of my big issues has always been resolving the conflict between ‘faith to move mountains‘ and ‘thy will be done‘. Never being entirely sure how to pray.

One of the great things about prayer is its efficacy. A medic friend told me of medical studies of prayer as complimentary medicine – where one group is randomized to receive conventional treatment and the other to receive treatment plus anonymous prayer. It also seems to work when the prayer is applied in a retrospective way which along with being weird as, is also kind of cool.

Another is how the whole concept works. Of that we’re not told much, and most of it is deduction from what the Bible has to say about it. My favorite Lewis quote on the matter is “prayer doesn’t change GOD, it changes me”.

This is of course hardly the full story (it rarely is) but there is a definite truth in there.

Though it’s a very pragmatic, human view of prayer, one of the cool things that really gets me is that when a group of people sit in a group to pray is that something very rare happens – they all listen to each other without interruption.

On most occasions (depends very much on your tradition), people will pray one at a time, silence filling the rest of the room. There are no interruptions, no points of order, no witty one-liners to cut off the speaker, no Jon Humphrys to catch you out. To again steal from Fight Club, prayer is special because “people really listen to you, instead of waiting for their turn to speak…”

If nothing else then surely prayer will teach us something of what it is to deal with each other with grace and mercy.

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