Sunday, July 17, 2016

Prayer in a Hurting Time

A week and a half ago, or so, I posted this on Facebook:

It was in response, I think, to the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas police officers.  I was called on it by a friend for putting those who feel powerless in the face of our ghastly existence into an impossible spot: if all we can do is pray, doesn't what I said make it impossible for us to feel anything but guilt?  I responded by saying that such wasn't my intent; it was, rather, that there is a certain segment of the Christian population (my experience is with evangelicals, but I imagine it is an ecumenical expression) that may have the power to do something, anything, but chooses to hide behind hashtags such as #prayforParis and the like.

While it wasn't my intention, I'm finding myself stymied in my own attempts to call others to prayer now that I've said that.  Part of the problem, I think, is that I fall into that category proffered by my friend: I am powerless in the face of systemic, or atomistic, oppression to do anything.  All I can do is pray -- but the problem isn't that, for prayer accomplishes much; the problem is that, in the face of my own impotence, I don't pray at all.  I say I do, and apparently feel comfortable enough to chastise those who use prayer as an excuse for inaction, but the larger hypocrite -- the one with the log in his eye -- is me.

Forgive me, a sinner.

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