This blog post is the third in a series of three posts inspired by the most popular post from the archive of 99Brattle, “Do Progressive Christians Pray?” by Chris Glaser, published two years ago. The first installment was by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 and the second installment was written by Dr. Kwok Pui Lan.
By Christi Humphrey '08
The line that stands out for me in the blog post, “Do Progressive Christians Pray?” is the following: "God brings justice and mercy into the world one person at a time."
Hidden within this line is the belief that God’s work was not completed in seven days, but rather, God continues to create in the world today. God works in and through each of us—as co-creators—and our individual transformation ripples out into the world. The foundation for this transformation is our own prayer mixed with God’s grace.
Prayer comes in many forms. Some prayers are dear to us because of their familiarity, the memories and tradition associated with them. “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” or “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
There are prayers offered in a worship service—corporate prayers offered for the Church and those in authority. Prayer for the welfare of the world and for those who suffer, are in any trouble or have died.
There are also spontaneous prayers offered throughout the day, for the need of a loved one or in confession. And there are those moments of silence and meditation when the prayer simple rests in the presence of the Divine, whether it is behind the wheel of a car, in response to a beautiful sunset, or on a meditation stool as part of a daily practice.
All of these forms of prayer make up a conversation with God—a conversation as unique as we are and the basis for our transformation into the beings God intended us to be. Through a dialogue with God—if we are open to it—we can learn about ourselves and our place in the world.
For centuries, people of faith have stopped throughout the day to pray, to commune with God. The way we pray, what we pray for, and how often we pray, says something about how we understand our place in the world and who we believe God to be.
If we are to be co-creators with God in realizing the dream God had for the world at its creation—a place of unity, mutuality, and beauty—we must know ourselves. We must understand our gifts, talents, and passions, our shortcomings and our dark places. We must know God—God’s love, grace, strength, comfort, and encouragement. In the same way that we are in relationship with those we love, we must be in relationship with God, through prayer.
George Herbert says the following in his poem “Prayer”:
“God’s breath in man returning to his birth, The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage. . .reversed thunder. . .A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear; Softness, and peace, and joy, and love and bliss, . . . Heaven in ordinary man . . . the soul’s blood . . .”
Do progressive Christians pray? Yes, because our prayer informs our action. Our prayer is as important as our action.
Christi Humphrey ’08 is the Director of Alumni/ae and Constituent Engagement at Episcopal Divinity School and a certified spiritual director and ministry developer.