At the beginning of the week, and saw that the passage was about prayer. Thank God, because no matter what happens this week, I know that it will apply.
Then the African-American caretaker of an autistic man was shot……
I am the mother of an autistic child. Right now he is small and cute. When he flaps his hands giving “exclamatory hands” to excitement or frustration, its not very threatening, and if he does throw a tantrum he is still small enough that I can pick him up in a worse-case-scenario.
As the mother of an autistic child I can say, I don’t care who this police officer was aiming for, this was a terrible action.
So what am I supposed to do, pray?
What can others do for me and my son, pray for us?
Prayer is often used as a comforting action–but that is not its only purpose.
When you pray for someone, you are placing them in God’s hands. You are enacting love. You are opening yourself to be in relationship with them.
Whenever there is a harsh disagreement in the church congregation, session (board of leaders) or the Presbytery (our higher governing board). I will be the first to raise my hand and call for prayer.
And I’ll tell you what it is difficult to immediately stop and pray, the temptation is to continue arguing, the temptation is to prove that I am right, and that you should be listening to me!
This is exactly when prayer is needed, though, because you are trying to focus on God, to change your own individual perspective. Prayer is an act of Holy Imagination, where the world is viewed as the beginning of what God wants for us. God’s priorities and love are given voice and precedent over our own perspective. True prayer, opens oneself to actively love others, and that love is changing. That action is one in which we practice persistence to build a practice and discipline of prayer.
Time after time the most effective antidote to bigotry and prejudice is not education or knowledge. Its not about who is on the “right side of history.” Its having a relationship with someone who is different than you. Its knowing and loving a queer person or a person of color or one who is trans, female in leadership, or living in poverty.
Love is dangerous, because love changes your perspective.
Praying for someone is looking at them and loving them. Praying for another person an act of loving God, one where you recognize the other person as a child of God.
Just as Jesus looked at Martha, and then loved her, and then spoke to her last week.
So too are we called to love each other. Prayer is a discipline by which you practice seeing the world as God wants it to be, so we are more equipped and enabled to bring that world into being. Praying for one another is loving them through all the joys and hardships and struggling to find community with them, especially when we disagree.
Prayers are so much more than a comforting platitude, prayer is one of many disciplines by which we are able to get things done.