The last post was about prayer and in particular about praying in public or as one Bible passage puts it, “praying on the street corner”. After a few days to think about the post following various comments from various viewpoints, I realized I had written something that does not fit for me. I abandoned my core principle for life. I abandoned the most important commandments (MIC) while considering that blog post.
I have the MIC in my thoughts running as a prayer in the background to focus my thoughts on the commands of Jesus contained in Matthew 22:36-40. In spite of that, I managed to go out of the bounds I have defined for myself. In this post, I will describe at least three ways I failed to live and love as I want to do.
First, I believe compassion is almost always appropriate and perhaps is always appropriate, so, “drive through” prayer is a great idea. It seems compassionate and I believe the people involved were compassionate. The activity sort of returns us to the time when church doors were not locked so any passersby could come into the church for comfort and shelter from the world. I believe Jesus taught that his followers should first build life on being compassionate. In turn, the most important quality of a church should be compassion. If drive through prayer builds compassion in the church by giving compassion, then it is a good practice.
Second, I believe that prayer is incredibly personal. I believe that it must be personal in order for the one praying to get the most from it. Praying like somebody else tells you to pray may even be detrimental for you. It does not mean that any words somebody calls prayer, at any place, and at any time is good or appropriate. In the end, the one who hears words must be responsible for what is done with them whether they are called prayer or not.
Third, I take very little of the Bible literally, so for me to read a verse and apply it literally to somebody’s actions is wrong by my own standards and likely nearly always will be wrong for me to do. I love pork tenderloin sandwiches, so I would not appreciate somebody referencing scripture about not eating pork at lunch time.
It still ends up that one should consider why one is praying. I believe prayer is usually for communication and for sharing. We can share God’s love with God and with God’s creation which includes other people. Prayer can open hearts and minds if it is allowed to open them. Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote that prayer is not for us to change God’s will. Rather, prayer is to change God’s actions.
When we take time to pray and open our hearts completely to the possibilities that may be presented to us, God will act through our lives. Note that this does not mean that we can pray and get God to do something that we want to have done. We pray to learn what God would have us do in our lives.
For example, I wrote the blog a few days ago without much time or prayer going into it. After further reflection, input from others, and prayer, a different meaning was given to me with a different way of using the circumstances. I could have decided that what I had written was fine and closed my mind and heart to further consideration. Once I reflected on what transpired, I realized that I had failed to use the MIC and that as a result, my mind and heart were not open to the love of God. God’s actions could not occur in any way through what I wrote since I was not open. I did not realize it. I thought I was fine.
I followed a song a Bible verse off into the ditch with the brambles. Prayer can keep the heart, mind, and life open to God and to God’s creation. It helps with guidance so long as one is open and avoids the trap of following the elevation of oneself beyond one’s love for others.
Prayer can have other purposes, notably providing comfort for oneself and for others. I consider prayer as a private conversation usually between a person and God, so prayer in large, public settings to me are more like worship or some other ceremony or like a speech made for a specific purpose. Such “prayer” seems more for communicating a message to groups rather than an open, two way communication.
I am sorry if I have written anything harmful for anyone. Please consider if any of this is helpful in your life.