Main content | Sidebar | Links
Visit Walton Academy Cards

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Prayer in lieu of posting.

Since I've turned out to be too busy to post anything this week, I'll point you to a long comment I posted last week. Dudley Jones had asked if I pray, and I replied.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 29 September 2005 at 8:34 AM

Previous: 'Via media': Episcopalians challenge the Christian right.
Next: Updated guide to UU blogs, at last.




Matthew Gatheringwater:

September 29, 2005 08:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

Prayer is a big part of my religious life and something I am always happy to talk about. Curiously, my experience has been the opposite of Philocrites': In my Christian upbringing, I had a hard time with prayer. God seemed impossible, distant, and immoral--at least, as represented to me in my particular community. I sometimes went through the motions of communal prayer without belief, but rarely prayed in private. Only later, long after I stopped defining myself as a Christian, did prayer take on new meaning for me. Today, I find the methods of prayer sometimes easier to translate than the theologies which support them. I've found that, starting with the experience itself, I can sometimes work out a meaning that fits with my belief system--and sometimes not. Best of all, I have learned that bringing my questions and doubts with me into prayer enriches my experience rather than serving as a barrier to prayer.

There are several books that I have found to be helpful in exploration of prayer. Maybe they would be of interest to Dudley or other people interested in articulating their beliefs and experiences of prayer:

_Primary Speech_, by Ann and Barry Ulanov, although written from a very specific dogmatic position, looks at prayer in terms of depth psychology. This was very useful to me, since I believe that the reasons and, to a lesser degree, the methods by which we pray and the questions we bring with us into prayer, derive from universal human needs. I often disagreed with the dogmatic reasons the Ulanov's believe prayer "works" but I could also often agree with the results.

Perry LeFevre has written several useful books on prayer, including _Understandings of Prayer_, _Radical Prayer_, and _Modern Theologies of Prayer_.

In the liberal religious tradition, there are a surprising number of prayer resources that are now oddly neglected. Unitarian theologian Henry Nelson Weiman gave me whole new ways of imagining God and prayer that have been both sustaining and intellectually honest. I've also drawn inspiration from prayers written and published by James Martineau, Vivian Pomeroy, and Samuel Crothers. Universalist minister Horace Westwood wrote a book called _And So You Never Pray: Prayer is a Human Technique_ that is a friendly primer for the unconvinced.

I find these resources reassuring. Many other people have asked the same questions about prayer that we are asking and some of them have left helpful roadmaps of their experience. Sometimes I can even follow them!

Comments for this entry are currently closed.