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Prayer in Sacred Community

Last month, when we focused on worship and prayer, we had a lot of debate about how we do this with non-traditional concepts of God, especially in church settings. Folks talked fairly easily about private prayer, usually meditative or contemplative, non-formulaic, very personal. They pray, and they find in varying degrees that their times of prayer feed their spirits, enrich their lives, and help shape their decisions and behavior.

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My Struggle with Prayer

Somewhere in that time period one of my parishioners became terribly ill with cancer. They had already done surgery but the cancer came back. She was hospitalized several times and then they tried a new, much stronger chemotherapy that pushed her to the edge of death. It made her horribly sick. Over the years I had come to love this woman like a sister and considered her more than a dear friend. I would have done anything to help her. As I stood next to her bed in the hospital I was frustrated that I could not do more. At one point she opened her eyes, smiled and quietly whispered, “Hi Pastor Fred. Will you pray for me?”

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The Holy Wholly Other

Be still and know what’s going on inside yourself, and after a while your relationship to yourself will change. There will be the One who observes with kindness and patience, and the one that is observed – and after a while you’ll identify more with the kind and patient Observer than with the one who is observed. The compassionate Observer is God. Then you’ll know that God is not some supernatural superhero working miracles in the cosmos. You’ll know instead that God is love even for your worst enemy, who, all to often, is your own selfish self.

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Praying to Love

For many Christians, a supernatural theistic God is a daily reality in their lives, but for many others, this kind of God is simply not there. They long to feel God’s presence and God’s love, but instead they experience emptiness and isolation. They worship God in church, but find that God is not present in the sanctuary. They pray fervently to God in private moments, but realize that their prayers often go unanswered. In the end, there is only silence.2 The biblical character of Job cried out to God in despair, “I cry to you God, but you do not answer. I stand before you, and you don’t even bother to look.”3

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On Prayer and Pentecost

When prayers in Jesus’s name go unanswered, and when unrelenting “knocking on heaven’s door” produces no result – even when bargains are offered (“I’ll stop smoking”) – instead of confronting the possibility that God is not going to intervene, the failure is treated as a “test of faith” that “God has a better plan for me.” But the transformation of human thought is far more powerful than petitions to a discredited god. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, first given by John’s Jesus, descends in tongues of flames on the Christian community gathered in Jerusalem. They are empowered to tell the story of Jesus in every language of the known world. Peter quotes the prophet Joel, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Paul proclaims, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The imagery of fire represents the outpouring of the presence of sacred being and of creative power. No magic is required.

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More Things are Wrought: A Jungian Excursion

As part of this evolving universe we have our personal psyches, our individual mix of influences that shape and mold our lives and nourish our unique creativity. Amongst the multitude of forces that work within us is a central energy pushing us toward integration and wholeness. This integrating and creative force Jung called the Self.

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A Few Thoughts on Prayer

The indication here is that the answer to prayerful request is not the new bike, not health, peace, or justice, not any of the results that we usually pray for. It is, rather, the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is this gift? It is a heightened awareness of who God is, who you are, and who your neighbor is. The answer to prayer, quite simply, is a level of consciousness that is more in tune with God’s ever-abiding love. Inasmuch as prayer leads to this result, prayer is its own answer! As that awareness grows, we will become ever more conscious of God’s presence. God is always for us, in every way we can imagine and those we can’t. Our task is to become ever more aware of this love, and talking to God can assist that process.

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Jesus’ Prayer Promise in John 14:13-14: In What Sense Is It True?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
I’m sure most reading this recognize that this is not some universal blanket promise. So we have to ask, “On what level is this true?” Or, “Is it true on any level?”

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Topics: Spiritual Exploration & Practice. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus. Seasons & Special Events: Pentecost. Ages: All Ages. Texts: John. Resource Types: Articles.

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Prayer

I think we need some method of communicating with God and prayer is the logical answer. But prayer in which we stop everything we are doing, get down on our knees, fold our hands and pray is not my idea of prayer. I think we should try to communicate with God any time we have a second to think about God or ask God to be with a loved one or friend, or share anything in our life with God. While driving, when watching TV, while on the lake alone, working in the garden, any of those times and many more, we should take a moment to commune (talk, whatever word you want to use) with God. It may be that those moments are more for us than for God, but I like to think that God listens and cares. I admit that I get awfully frustrated when I feel God is not listening because my petitions are not immediately answered in the way that I have requested. I know God’s answer may be “no,” but that is difficult to swallow.

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Should We Pray

Prayer can be an appealing concept to us humans. It’s an idea that there’s a Higher Power out there who we can talk with and make requests to. An entity more powerful than the President, who loves us more than our own parents, and who doesn’t charge us an hourly rate to sit on a couch and unload our problems. Who wouldn’t want to believe in that? But it’s not always that simple, as most of us have already figured out.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Sin

Can we actually believe that because Eve persuaded Adam to eat a forbidden apple the entire human race is doomed to hell? Can we truly believe that for several thousand years there was no chance for any human to be saved, even though none of them had anything to do with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden? Isn’t it ludicrous that a child born today is doomed because Adam and Eve disobeyed God? That creation/damnation scheme sounds more like devil-worship than God-worship.

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Would We Recognize Jesus If He Came Today?

The idea of a second coming of Christ is a mystery, if not explicitly controversial. Jesus’ followers apparently believed he would return during their lifetime after he was crucified. When that didn’t happen, later followers gradually changed the belief into an indefinite “someday.” After two thousand years of waiting, most Christians no longer look for it to happen in their lifetimes and acknowledge that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically about his return. It is just as likely that those words were put into Jesus’ mouth by the gospel writers themselves. Wishful thinking?

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