sexta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2014

PRAYER AND LISTENING


He will surely hurry and help them.

Luke 18:8 (read 18*1-8) – (CEV)

 

In the Parable of the Widow and the Judge, the judge granted the woman’s request only to “get her off his back”. He had no compassion, dedication to justice or respect for human rights. He judged the case of the widow in her favor in order for her to stop pestering him. She became so inconvenient that she wore him out.

Often Christians act as though God is equal to this dishonest judge. They think they can overcome Him by prayer. They organize prayer vigils as though He were influenced by the insistence of them praying all night. They cry out thinking that their loud voices would move God to grant their requests. They think that prayer has power and that long prayers have even more power. They think that by much prayer they will be better heard. Sometimes they even reinforce their prayers by sound systems with powerful speakers.

For many, prayer is an instrument of manipulation to pressure God into complying to human will and confuses human desires with divine will. Faith is placed in the power of prayers that are well made and not in the unconditional compassion of God.

Jesus made it clear that his “Daddy” is the opposite of the crooked judge of the parable. He does not need to hear cries, moaning or clamor to meet his children’s needs. He already knows their needs even before they reveal their pain. God does not act too late and needs not be pressured, or informed. God meets our needs because He is love and not because we pray.

What does the recommendation to "pray always and not lose heart" mean? For Jesus, prayer begins with listening, not talking. The basis of prayer is the attitude of "Thy will (not mine) be done". In order to know the will of God we must first listen to the voice of His Spirit. Jesus frequently went off by himself alone in the dead of night and prayed (listened) intensely. He criticized prayers made in public. Real prayer is the communion of His Spirit with our spirit. Our talking should be done only after listening and with words of gratitude directed only to the "ears" of God as a whisper in the ear of a lover.

The insistence on prayers in public places and events is a carryover from a paganism that has distant and uninterested deities instead of a loving parent that is always by our side. Public prayers have nothing to do with God’s presence or blessings. Repeating the Lord’s Prayer in classrooms or public gatherings will not “bring God in” or the absence of them “take God out”. The Divine presence is everywhere independent of humans, or perhaps even in spite of them.

God is not deaf, ignorant or uninterested. The world does not need to be changed. God has molded it to perfection. We are the ones who need to change. Our lifestyle directly or indirectly creates the conditions that cause imbalance, injustice and suffering. No use crying out to God for what we cause.

Prayer that is "constant and without losing heart" is to live in constant harmony in all our activities. Prayer is not an activity apart from the others. It is a permanent attitude that accompanies all actions. It accompanies everything we do and goes beyond mere words.

Jesus questioned about finding "on the earth anyone with faith". Faith is to live in harmony with God, with all humankind and with all of nature. Prayer should transform those who practice it into tools that build a better, kinder and more caring world. The prayer of faith is not just a lot of spoken words.

 

Luke 18:1-8 – Contemporary English Version (CEV)

A WIDOW AND A JUDGE

Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:

In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.”

For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people,  I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don’t help her, she will wear me out.”

The Lord said:

Think about what that crooked judge said. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?

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