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November 13, 2016



Thanks for this, Jim. I have been pondering on prayer all day since listening to Terry Waite speaking about it on Radio 4 this morning. He said that when he was taken captive, he resolved to pray only the prayers of the Anglican prayer book, and he didn't let himself 'fall into' (his words) extempore prayer, as that would just become 'God get me out of here'. It was a fascinating interview, but I didn't relate to his approach at all. Dyed in the wool Baptist, I don't have all that Cranmer committed to memory! But bottom line must be that we're all called to pray.

Jim Gordon

Prayer is both personal and universal, and how and when and why we pray is likewise personal and as diverse as our hearts and minds must be. What suited Waite in captivity may not suit him now;but I do understand the strategy of objective prayers as a wall against self-pity, introspection and self-concern. Extempore prayer seems natural, open to the Spirit within us, rooted in the relationality of God's ways and Being. It needn't be the "God deliver me" petition, though the Psalms are full of that! What I am increasingly feeling is that amongst the responses of the church to the brokenness of our culture, the dissemination of fear, anger and hate, there is the praying community, and communities, affirming the opposites of fear, anger and hate. Grace, mercy and help as in the text from Hebrews is a start. But Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Luke, Revelation are also voices we need to hear and echo for justice, righteousness, peace-making, defence of the poor and vulnerable, and speaking truth to power, and the more corrupt the power the more persistent the triuth speaking and praying!

Bob MacDonald

Getting analytical about prayer seems difficult. This Anglican agrees with the general principles you note above. What I note in the Psalms is a repeated prayer about shame. It is not my mother's "Shame on you" statement which I would find unacceptable today. But it is the often repeated phrase 'let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my hurt'. The shame that comes from a correction that is from God is a shame that leads to repentance that is ultimately healing.

I had a situation recently when a Christian supporter of the condemnation of others (and a believer in Trump also) who were different from him, led a man to send me questions that were abusive. I guess he feels that my position on the interpretation of this or that Scripture was offensive to his rigid (in my view) sensibility.

I haven't seen the man recently, but I found his questions were blocking him from any possible growth. Silence in conversation was better. What do I pray for him but for divine intervention, and for myself that I not write him off. A conflict that would bring him to shame might help. But it is out of my hands. If asked, I would encourage his own desire for purity, but not at the expense of the many people who are different around him. I think isolationist purity may be a harder problem than blatant impurity.

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