Barbara's Random Thoughts

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pray for me, and I'll pray for you

Sunday's sermon on Eph. 1:15-23 focused on praying for others on a deeper level. I've been thinking about this quite a bit the past few days. The passage is one that I've prayed specifically for a good friend of mine for several years, but somehow I hadn't really thought about prayer before in the ways that Danny discussed.

He talked about how often we pray only on a surface level--only focusing on the experiences of ours and others' lives: for this person to find a job, for that person to get well, for this relationship to be reconciled. We pray for circumstantial things--and that's ok--but there's so much more to prayer, so much more to be asked of God. After all, "his incomparably great power for us who believe" is outlined dramatically in this same passage: Paul goes off about it in verses 19-23.

So many times, I find myself not knowing what to ask God in a given circumstance, not knowing how to pray for a friend, because I'm not sure what I should pray for the outcome to be. And so this idea--which should perhaps have been more obvious to me--provided a bit of an answer to that. I've been challenged to pray for the deeper issues of spiritual formation instead of the surface issues of events and circumstances.

One of Danny's points was that we often pray for circumstances to change so that we don't have to change. That reminded me of a W. H. Auden quote: "We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die." I don't think Auden meant it in a spiritual sense necessarily, but that's where it hits me. We ourselves need to be changed, though we would rather pray for everything to be fixed for us. Maybe that's why prayer often seems to disappoint: because we're asking for the wrong thing to be changed. And that brings me to the part of the sermon I most needed to hear: instead of praying for circumstances to change, perhaps we should instead be praying for those circumstances to change us.
| posted by Barbara | 8:43 PM