Prayer and the Powers | Sojourners

Prayer and the Powers

We are not easily reduced to prayer. We who grope toward praying today are like a city gutted by fire. The struggle against injustice has exacted from us an awful cost. Albert Camus, in a similar period, wrote, "There is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is tragedy in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this tragedy. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice."

We have in our own experience discovered the mystery of the beast of the abyss: He can allow the righteous to destroy him because he is virtually assured that in so doing they will be changed into his likeness.

I will not attempt to make a case for the importance of prayer. Those who do not believe in its efficacy simply illustrate the effectiveness of the powers in diminishing our humanity. There are few rational objections to praying that carry any force, since they are all spin-offs from a particular myth. It is our myth, our worldview, that permits or forbids prayer, and no one arrives at a worldview on wholly rational grounds.

Those who pray do so not because they believe certain intellectual propositions about the value of prayer, but simply because the struggle to be human in the face of suprahuman powers requires it. The act of praying is itself one of the indispensable means by which we engage the powers. It is in fact that engagement, at its most fundamental level, where their secret spell over us is broken and we are re-established in a bit more of that freedom which is our birthright and potential.

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