Scripture: Romans 5.1-2
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
Reflection: What Prayer Delivers
By John Tillman
We have often written, and discussed in our community that prayer is not a grocery list for God. That’s not what it means for God to be our Deliverer. Those who treat prayer so, will continually be disappointed at what must seem a very poor return on investment.
Some in the church have set prayer up to fail with this kind of teaching—attempting to create a longing for prayer through a materialistic longing for a better job, or positive, tangible outcomes in life. Teaching such as this short-circuits the real and actual longing for prayer that already exists in each person. Roberta C. Bondi discusses this in her essay, The Paradox of Prayer.
There is a deeper reason for our longing for prayer. We are so made that we cannot live fully without it. Prayer is central to the Christian life. It joins us to God, and it leads us to ourselves in God.
Prayer is something far deeper in the human soul than a list of materialistic items. It comes from longings that each person feels—a longing for identity, a longing for connection, a longing for purpose.
In prayer we find things that are more valuable than what a “deliverer god” (lowercase) might pick up at the shop on the way over. We discover who we are, who loves us, and to whom we are to carry that love—for we are God’s delivery system, not the other way around.
Prayer connects us to God, to our true selves, and to our true purpose. Bondi continues:
It is the place where we can be completely ourselves. In prayer we can see ourselves as we are and be truthful about what we see. We can enjoy our own gifts and wonder at all we have been given. We can argue with God about who we are and who we have been. We can acknowledge our mistakes and set them aside. Most important, we can learn to love God, ourselves as belonging to God, and other people as images of God, because we are shaped at our very deepest levels by our prayer.
*Quotes from Roberta C. Bondi’s essay, The Paradox of Prayer, in Communion, Community, Commonweal, edited by John S. Mogabgab.
The Request for Presence
Bow down your ear, O Lord, and answer me… Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful. — Psalm 86.1-2
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.