Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Today, in my sermon at Cliftonville Moravian Church, ‘Embracing Vulnerability: Honesty in Prayer’, I explored the Prophet Jeremiah’s complex relationship with God.

With Jeremiah one can feel his honesty, expressed vividly by the language used, as he vents his frustrations with God directly to God.  In suffering persecution, mockery and public shame on account of his calling as a prophet, Jeremiah experiences emotional agitation that is, at times, much more than he fears he can bear.  Nevertheless, there are periods, amidst the tumult, where calm descends upon him and enables him to withstand the cruel criticism and soothes his suffering.  Jeremiah’s honesty with God is refreshing and at times almost brutal, and therein lies its importance.  As Michael Casey, the Australian Cistercian Monk and accomplished author has written of Jeremiah’s strongly worded complaints to God:

‘There is a sense in which the very act of addressing such a complaint to God is the beginning of its solution.  What we fear above all is the unnameable.  Being able to speak of a terror relativises it.  The possibility of reaching out to God from the depths of our affliction indicates that a skerrick of our faith survives.’

As Clement of Alexandria recognised: ‘Prayer is conversation with God’.  And as a conversation, it should be open and honest. As Jeremiah vigorously reminds us, we are at our most authentic when we come to God, just as we are; when we bow our heads in prayer and open our hearts unreservedly and unconditionally.  Yes, at times what we uncover is painful and perplexing, but it is at that point of realisation, where we experience an earnest communion with God, and sustain, as Martin Luther described it: ‘the fire of faith‘.

So pray with all your heart, and all your mind and all your soul; pray with a a purity of intention and an honesty that lays bare the tumult and turmoil.  Name the unnameable; explore the unexplored in the light and love of God’s presence.

Every blessing, Scott

 

 

 

For many years, scientists have tried to test the power of prayer and positive thinking on health and well-being.  The results, it has to be said, have been mixed.

Now a group scientists are venturing onto new, and controversial terrotory. For example, University of Miami HIV/Aids researcher, Gail Ironson noticed that a number of HIV positive patients were seemingly never physically ill. In trying to understand why this was the case, Ironson discovered something unexpected: “If you ask people what’s kept you going so long, what keeps you healthy, often people would say spirituality,” she says. “It was something that just kept coming up in the interviews, and that’s why I decided to look at it.”

Ironson began to investigate the patient’s relationship with God in an attempt to predict the likely dynamics of the disease and their relative well-being. Interestingly, Ironson’s research found that those who turned to God after their diagnosis had a much lower viral load and maintained those powerful immune cells at a much higher rate than those who were not spiritual.

This NPR article shares more about her intriguing research and findings and is well worth a read: http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=5017