Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Prayer Makes Us Human

Prayer provides a practice through which we come home to ourselves in the moment that God has given us with the gifts that God has provided. We do not pray to become someone else – some spiritual giant. Our prayers will not make of us more Nouwens, more Bonhoeffers, more Kings, more Coffins. Our prayers will make us ourselves – fully human, nothing more but nothing less.

As such, prayer is, as Nouwen said, resistance. It is resistance to all that would make of us something less than human. Our prayers for healing are resistance to the ways in which our own deep woundedness would deny us our humanity. That is not to suggest that woundedness is not part of humanness, but rather to acknowledge that wounds can dehumanize. Abuse suffered all too easily becomes abuse inflicted. Emotional damage too easily becomes emotional weaponry. Pain suffered too easily becomes an excuse for pain inflicted.

Prayers for healing and wholeness do not deny the reality of suffering and pain, but rather they seek a way through brokenness to compassion – to suffering with, such that our own experiences of brokenness open us to deeper connections with others in their suffering.

I tried to include a nice graphic that I found here: http://www.justpeace.org/prayer.htm. That site has a number of links on prayer from a Roman Catholic perspective as well as the picture that wouldn't cooperate when I tried to steal it -- er, borrow it -- I mean, appropriate it in an artistic fashion in keeping with the established norms of post modern art.