Thursday, November 08, 2007

Q: How Christians pray

This comment came in from Bill, a reader in Illinois:

Recently, I've been told in no uncertain terms from a couple of very conservative Christians that prayers are going up to the ears of Jesus Christ as the mediator between man and God before they reach God as the Father. In fact all prayers are answered or not answered by Jesus. Of course, this way of viewing prayer is a physical human way of viewing prayer. Even so, prayer is practiced by many this way. I mean, Christians pray to Jesus as God, then Jesus decides if the prayer requests are worthwhile to send on up to the Father (the way I understand it).

I don't think it has registered with metaphysical Christians that this prayer process above is how most Christians pray. Is it worth commenting on?

I'm no authority on how the various sects of Christianity teach their adherents to pray. But on this praying to Jesus subject, I've often thought, "Hasn't the guy done enough for us already? Give him a break!"

Kidding aside, it seems to me the prayer theory Bill's highlighting assumes a few things:

  1. God doesn't hear us directly, or care about us as individuals.
  2. God's got too much to do, so can't answer every prayer.
  3. God has set up the universe such that things could go wrong, but through prayer we can get Him to alter His own design for a better outcome.
  4. God needs an administrative assistant to handle appointments and scheduling: i.e., Jesus.
  5. God is essentially the same as human beings, only bigger.

Okay, yeah, to me, this isn't God. I couldn't worship that kind of being, any more than I could worship the Roman god Jupiter or the Greek goddess Artemis. That kind of being is one to bargain with, to try to get around, or to avoid, if possible. You'd want to stay out of its line of sight, actually, because who knows what it would throw at you.

So, who is God? Who is Love? Who is Life? Who is Mind? I'm talking about an infinite Being, wholly Spirit, with no—repeat, NO—human characteristics of any kind. A Being so totally transcendent that it defies time and space. A Being who, once understood, obliterates discord of every kind by the simple fact of its omnipresence.

When you pray to this God, you're not asking, you're understanding. You're aligning yourself with what already is. It's *you* that changes, not the Divine nor its creation. And all that's changing about you is your thought.

Let's all pray to that God today, and see what happens.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 11/08/2007 01:12:00 PM, Anonymous Dennis R said...

I spent many years in the charimatic evangelical flavor of Christianity so let me explain how it is usually taught.

One is taught to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Evangelical belief is this is what gives us access to the Father. By the merits of Jesus we are given admission to the throne room.

This is based on the Scripture that says "Whatever you ask the Father in my name.."

It is not so much praying to Jesus, although that is done, it is being able to address the Father through Jesus and what He has done.

At 11/08/2007 02:05:00 PM, Blogger -mt said...

"I'm talking about an infinite Being, wholly Spirit, with no—repeat, NO—human characteristics of any kind."

Then of what use is this being? The same definition could also apply to a synthetic substance, an electron, or even a stone. Praying to these would have the same effect. And does, IMO.

At 11/08/2007 10:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Logical thinking from “-mt”. I like his or her response. God isn’t man’s image, but man is in God’s image – so there must be some similarities somewhere.

Here are some quotes of Bible verses (quotes are below at the end of the page), if you care to read through them. I’ve made some brief comments on each first, but it would be good if you could read what the Bible (RSV) says too.

They explain about Jesus being the mediator. Bill’s fundamental friends may be using some of this material, and then jumping to wrong conclusions. Different conclusions than my conclusions, anyway! I wish I could use bold or italic type to highlight important phrases, but the blog doesn’t reproduce them for me. Oh well!

In First Tim. it talks about Jesus “the man” being the mediator between God and man. I think it should read more properly “whom we once knew as a man.” Christians are not to pray “to” Jesus, incidentally, but “through” Jesus’ Spirit, which is Christ in you, now living as a presence in your own mind (along with mortal mind, of course). Who is top boss?

In 2 Cor. it states “even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.” This is more like it, as Jesus is now “glorified”, transformed, and within each follower of his Father’s Spirit. Read John 17 for Jesus’ own words.

In John 17 it reads: “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them …” Notice, if you will, the word “them” – all them who believe. One glorified Spirit of Christ (following his ascension) in many of “them,” and in more and more thems as new followers join what is now called “the Body of Christ.” Then Jesus says further, “I in them and thou [Father] in me.” This sounds like Christ functions, at this time, as the mediator between God and man! Read it and see what you think. What the Bible says is not always exactly synonymous with what CS has to say – you may have noticed - so don’t try to read with a closed mind to a little different wording than you’re familiar with – for CS pretty much reaches the same conclusion in the end as far as the reality of God’s inner presence in Christians. And this is what counts.

In John 14 it states, Jesus’ speaking, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” He also says to his followers, "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.” But Jesus comes in a different form (in the Spirit), following his crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and, yes, glorification.

Here below are quotes from the Bible. Think for yourself, as I know you will. You may see something I missed. We’re Reasoning Together here. Best wishes.

1 Tim 2:1-7
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

2 Cor 5:14-23
For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

John 17:20-26
"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.
O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me.
I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."

John 14:12-23
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.


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