You want ME to pray for you? 5 weeks and counting….

The trouble with the godstuff is that you can spend an awful lot of time wrestling with things that make no apparent sense.

Like this prayer exploration I’ve been tangling with after my friend Marcia asked me to pray for her before merrily tripping off on pilgrimage.
Prayer has always been a mystery to me, which you might consider progress if I’m on about being still or finding, as Thomas Merton might put it, my deepest center. However, whilst I admit to being able to hear the still, small voice inside, I remain resolute that you can’t just go about calling that God.
Unlike the Vineyard Church folks described in Tanya Lurhmann’s book, When God talks back. They say that God wants to be your friend (pleeeease!) and ‘you develop that relationship through prayer …. and when you develop that relationship, God will answer back, through thoughts and mental images he places in your mind, and through sensations he causes in your body.’ (p41)
To be honest, I think that’s a convenient fiction, a kind of linguistic justification for feeling good about the choices you’ve made. It also assumes God exists in some active way and is delighted to interact with us as though we were best buddies.
Whilst I grew up on images of that kind of God and curse Michelangelo for perpetuating them on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, I gave up belief in a God like that long ago, which may be the sticking point.
According to psychotherapist Ana-Maria Rizzuto, our internal representation of God is complex, drawing on our relationships and powerful experiences. Once formed, ‘it has all the psychic potential of a living person, even if it is experienced only in the privacy of the mind.’ (When God talks back p124)  Continue reading

Sande Ramage is an Anglican priest and blogger.

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