Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pagan Prayers

I was listening to my favorite podcast, Clerically Speaking, yesterday when they made an interesting point about prayer. Prayer is not my strongest suit, to say the least.

Pagan prayer is where you pray and expect results. That is, if I say this incantation, God will love me or I'll get some benefit. Or, perhaps, if I sacrifice this chicken, my team will win the big game.

If the chicken sacrifices me, there's no telling what might happen.

In any case, they discussed contemplative prayer which is where you exist in the moment and let the moment wash over you as you contemplate and listen for what God has to say to you. I did this the other day in Adoration. Mother kitteh is doing quite poorly and I was exhausted and stressed. I was told to just love.

Leaving my mom yesterday, I tried contemplative prayer as I drove and I thought about the love and peace I had brought her by setting up some additional care. I was on my way to do some shopping, so I vowed to try and bring some smiles to the clerks and other folks at the stores. I think I managed to do it.

It happened because I opened myself up to what God wanted of me in the moment, not because I performed a certain rite and said certain words. I think those have their place, but not the same as the one they hold in a pagan world.

Does that make sense?


Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

Imperials: Be Still My Soul

Kim Hill: Be Still and Know

2nd Chapter of Acts: Be Still My Soul

ligneus said...

Makes perfect sense. And being pleasant to cashiers and such is a two way street. It's the sort of thing that makes life worth living.

Foxfier said...

Seems like it's addressing a problem, though not one I have.

I've been blessed with not expecting the ordered results from prayer. I ask, and I'm probably wrong on what I ask for; what I need to do is trust Him to take care of it. But asking doesn't hurt.

tim eisele said...

KT: Not only would I agree that contemplative prayer makes sense, I would also argue that, given an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal God, it is the *only* kind of prayer that makes sense.

God is even further beyond our comprehension than we are beyond the comprehension of the average bacteria. "Pagan" prayers consist of a combination of flattery, groveling, and wheedling in an attempt to get favors out of God, but how much would any of us pay attention to the flattery and brown-nosing of a single Rhizobium leguminosarum cell growing in a root nodule of a bean plant in our garden? Let alone pick one out of trillions, all asking for different and often mutually incompatible things that are likely not in line with what we really want to accomplish (in this case, growing beans)?

The thing is, when Jesus gave the apostles the Lord's Prayer, it was pretty clear that what he had in mind was contemplative prayer. The Lord's Prayer has kind of the form of a "pagan" prayer, but the part at the beginning that resembles an attempt to flatter God actually is to remind the person praying just how far he is beneath God. The part that looks like a request for a favor, is actually a reminder that we are in no position to request favors, and we should accept what we get with good grace, and not to expect any more forgiveness than we give others. And what looks like groveling at the end, is actually a reminder that we are supposed to be working for God and not vice-versa. This is most useful if you say it *once*, while considering what it actually means, to put you into a properly contemplative frame of mind. He specifically told us *not* to go on and on in public, babbling and nagging in hopes that by mere repetition we will get very specific things that we want (Matthew 6:5-8).

So, I'd say you are on a more useful track. There is nothing anyone can tell God that he doesn't already know, but if a person is constantly rambling and dinning away at him, they will drown out anything they might hear in return.