The Sexual Code Word: Silence! - By John Shelby Spong

Essay by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 7 May 2003 0 Comments
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Question

If God doesn't intervene, what is the meaning of intercessory prayer?

Answer

If God does intervene why is there so much suffering? Do our prayers cause God to do what God might otherwise not do? If God has the power to intervene, would God depend on our prayers to force God to do it? Are these not the problems that such an intervening theistic miracle-working deity would create?

Most of us never think about these things. We are only concerned to know that somewhere there is a parent God on whom we can call who will do our bidding. That is not the mark of faith but of our own spiritual immaturity.

The time has come for human beings to grow up, to claim the grandeur of our humanity and to abandon our Santa Claus view of God. When we do that we will begin to raise very different questions about the nature of faith in the 21st century. The intervening God who answers our intercessory prayers is a comfortable fiction that is no longer worthy of our worship.

This kind of honesty scares people who want security not truth. I still think intercessory prayer has a place in the Christian life but it would take a book just to unload the distortions of the past and then to chart new definitions for the future. Suffice it now to say that the God who is the Source of Life, the Source of Love and the Ground of Being can only work through the life, the love and the being of people like you and me. So you and I must intervene wherever we can as God bearers. Our lives become our prayers. Prayer is not quite like saying, "Now I lay me down to sleep."

John Shelby Spong

 

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