Let’s be real, prayer is one of the biggest mysteries of the Christian faith. Yet in the mystery that prayer is, faithful Christians have practiced prayer for thousands of years.
Just look at Tim Tebow and his token prayer after a good play…as if God somehow wants to let some football-millionaire score a touchdown over saving those suffering from starvation, cancer or those living on the streets. It doesn’t make sense in this popular Christian paradigm where God’s omnipotence (God’s power) is tapped into as the faithful ask questions with the hope of receiving a supernatural response. It’s a strange thought to think that God cares for the elite but not those suffering, especially because it is not what we see in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Process Theology offers a healthy response to this common paradigm and in Bruce Epperly’s book, “Process Theology, A Guide for the Perplexed” he writes, “Prayer changes things. Prayer does not change God’s love for us or God’s quest for beauty and intensity of experience for us and all creation, our prayers open us and others to greater movements, possibilities and energies of transformation in the God-world relationship, specifically involving those situations for whom we pray.”
In the process perspective God’s omnipotence/power is re-thought. God is powerful, but God does not coerce or force God’s self on anything. God lures and draws everything into the Divine adventure of justice and beauty, healing and wholeness. God calls and we respond. God does not force, act “supernaturally” or invade, but God calls. This develops an open and relational world, not a one-way street, where God forces Gods self on the created order.
In an open and relational universe, prayer is essential to God’s work in the world. The call and response of God in our lives is present in our prayers, as we call and God responds. Prayer is an invitation to us to be willing partners in the great dance that brings a world into being a reflection of God’s character.
In prayer we become attune to God’s creative inspiration as God energetically inspires the cosmic and even microcosmic journeys of all things. The Holy Adventurer brings forth new possibilities in God’s engagement with the past, present and emerging future.
God is present as a force promoting healing, compassion and strength amid pain. God is not limited by God’s past decisions, but can bring forth new possibilities in light of our decisions and our communicative call to God. Prayer opens us to new bursts of spiritual energy, enhanced by our past history, decisions, and values.
But with all of that said, don’t worry, this isn’t the final word. This whole “process theology” thing does bring a big challenge to traditional ways of thinking but it’s one of a few options I’ll explore!
Stay tuned for what’s to come, and give up, for this season of Lent, crappy ways of thinking about prayer.
Grace & Peace