Thursday, July 31, 2008

Training to pray

I was considering my first reaction to two different scenarios:

1. I hear that someone I know is sick.
First reaction? Pray.

2. Someone does me wrong -- whether on purpose or not.
First reaction? Anger -- or its politer cousin, impatience.

When someone wrongs me, I am suddenly in the middle of temptation: a temptation to hatred, even if it is in a mild form. Christ calls us to pray for our enemies so that, whenever I think of my enemies, it should trigger prayer as automatically as when I hear that someone is ill. Whenever I am wronged, it should call me to prayer as surely as the liturgy. Whenever someone curses me, I should hear the call to bless them.

Am I living up to that? Not even close -- but it's time I gave it a try.


Mairs said...

Funny, I have the opposite reaction. I think because in my limited faith, I don't really expect my prayer to affect change in others, only myself. If someone is sick I feel relatively helpless against that but if someone has wronged me well, then, at least I can change my own attitude by the grace of God. (Yes, I do believe many are healed by the grace of
God but that seems infinitely more complicated a prayer - how do I know God will heal? Perhaps this sickness is a blessing in disguise, perhaps the sick person does not really want healing or needs a different healing instead? I just can't sort out all that to know *how* to pray so I am more likely to neglect that prayer over a simple prayer for Lord have mercy on me to have mercy on (whoever has offended me))

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

You are certainly right that this type of prayer should jump to our hearts and lips as a first priority. Jesus' command to pray for our enemies is one of the most powerful things that he preached. And I don't think it is practiced and taught very well in our churches. That type of prayer changes our own hearts. The other person/group may eventually be changed as well. It is so much more effective than an angry response.

Given that we see so much judging by one Christian group by other Christian groups, it is easy to conclude that this is one of the things in the Bible that is rarely taken literally, even by the literalists!

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Mairs

Nice to meet you. I checked your profile. Beautiful family in the photo there.

I'm not one to worry about how to pray. I figure "Lord have mercy" will cover it, if I really get stuck for words. But I'm hoping I can develop praying for those who wrong me (or that I think wrong me) as a habit. When I see someone else's sin, I haven't made myself think about how that's a temptation for myself -- pride, hatred, name a nasty pseudo-spiritual vice and I probably get tempted to it by seeing someone else's sin.

Take care & God bless

Weekend Fisher said...


I know what you mean about the Christian infighting. It has gotten so far out of hand! I hope to be able to do more some day; my first step has been that I'm trying to stop adding fuel to the fire ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Lynne said...

I must admit my first reaction is to pray for my own peace of mind -- only as an afterthought do I realise I'm supposed to pray for the person who upset me! (and I don't think, "Lord, change their mind!" goes nearly far enough)
some lessons take a long time learning ..

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Lynne

Well, you know, praying for your own peace of mind -- that might be a necessary step, depending on where you're starting. Beats the old "gritting your teeth" approach, which is the habit I'm trying to break.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

Regarding the Christian infighting: I recently joined a "Lutheran" type of on-line discussion group, a sort of Facebook for Lutherans. Unfortunately, many of the discussions subtly and not so subtly "dis" other groups, even other Lutheran groups. For example, there are "conversion stories."

It does make me wonder if it is possible to state why/how one holds to a very specific theology/doctrine and not somehow also imply that one is therefore closer to God or higher on the ranking of theologians in God's eyes. And if we are higher, then the others are lower, so we're looking down on them. What about the Lutheran viewpoint of not being saved by doctrine but by grace alone? Maybe I should post THAT to thet group!

Claudia Riley said...

I have your reaction as well, though, praying is part of it. Such as, "Lord just please do whatever it takes to turn that person around! Bring them up short, Lord. Ward off their evil intentions." And like that - not quite as imprecatory as some of David's, but... you get the idea. I don't know if it's kosher, however comforting.

Martin LaBar said...

Short and to the point.


Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Martin

Thank you!