I must admit I don’t really understand prayer. Why do we do it, why does it work, or not work? And, how should we pray? And, yes, I know we have the Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus, when he was asked how we should pray. I also know the advice about locking yourself in room and, the lesson on humility provided through the story of the impressive and devout fellow and, the tax collector.
But, sometimes, perhaps mostly, my own prayer life is very thin. ‘Dear Lord please do so and so, resolve this or that situation, etc.’ My prayers are frequently contingent and transactional in nature. If god, and here I am deliberately using a small g, would only get his act together, then so could I!
And, there are clear reasons to offer such prayers, for life can be crappy and situations painful. And, the miraculous can be highly entertaining, requiring no effort or involvement on our part.
Over the last few days the daily readings for the lectionary have taken us through 1 John. 1 John uses the contrast between dark and light to great effect. Another major theme is love and, in the game of love, John (let’s not carry on calling him 1 John!) makes it clear that the first mover advantage lies with God for, he loved us first.
John also urges prayer: ‘if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases him. And, this is what pleases him: to believe in the name of His son, and to love one another as he commanded us.’ 1 John, 3 21-23. God’s one rule appears to be love.
Is love underpinning and guiding our prayers? Does praying in love alter the content and nature of prayer?