05 October 2009

more on prayer -- what not to pray for

My friend M.P. has this incredibly wrong 'prayer initiative' identified on his blog. evil initiative. I want to briefly use it as a springboard for a discussion of the sort of prayer I consider ill-intended, evil and completely unchristian.

Jesus told us to pray for some specific things, in community. Those things are always something everyone needs, the kingdom of God established by God, bread, forgiveness and (first) devotion to and worship of God. In each case, when we ask God for something, we are not making a value judgement. Everyone needs the kingdom, everyone needs their daily shelter and food, everyone needs to forgive and be forgiven and all live in a better place if God's will for human kind is done and God's creation is renewed.

So often and the web site I referenced is one case, when someone says "I will pray for you" and especially when someone starts to name people as these authors do, prayer is not for someone. Rather it is intended to call on God to impose our will on someone. "Praying for" someone the website calls the 'unknown liberal' is a baby step away from the sort of seeking of bad people we Americans call 'McCarthyism.' Naming moderate to left wing political figures to 'pray for' is dismissing their views and actions as contrary to one's own arrogant version of what God's will should be. It is simply wrong.

Prayer is not a vehicle for forcing someone to conform to our will. It is not a vehicle to magically impose our views on someone. It especially is not a method for our telling God who to consider enemies and change.

From this sort of "I will pray for you" warfare to the inquisition is a short step down the road of arrogance. It is the sin of ideology written large and black across the light of God's love. It is a sin both liberals and conservatives are capable of falling into when we think we alone discern God's will.

Praying for one another should be an act of true and shared concern, not an attempt to force someone into a mold. That way lies evil.



MadPriest said...

Good post. But it's left me wondering if I might be wrong about KJ and, in fact, it is YOU who are the "Unnamed Liberal."

I'll pray for:-)

JimB said...

LOL -- for real!

I suppose it is possible KJ and I are both the unnamed liberal. After all, the wrong wingers say we are all unnatural!


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