Progressive Christian Visibility Day

Column by Rev. Jim Burklo on 25 April 2024 0 Comments

That great defender of the faith, Don Trump, responding in faux outrage to the fact that Trans Visibility Day happened to coincide with Easter this year, declared that Election Day 2024 should be “Christian Visibility Day.” As if Christians have a visibility problem in America today.

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


We are often not in a position to judge the outcome of our intercessory prayer.  One needs a bigger picture of things than we humans possess, a deeper awareness of the great network of interconnections to perceive what is really going on and where and when.  God does often intervene, but not necessarily on our exact terms.

There is a danger in intercessory prayer that we see our relationship with the Divine as a quid pro quo, sort of like putting a coin into a canteen and pressing a button for the object we desire.  The human-creation-divine relationship is more subtle and more grand than that.

That is why it is good to caution about intercessory prayer—while it can have its place, it is not up to us to dictate the results.  Often, the results surprise us or come later from our appointed schedule or in another form.  That is one reason Thomas Aquinas cautions that prayer changes us, not God.  We don’t always get what we desire in a direct way—sometimes, we have to learn to let go of our demands and ways of seeing things in order, as Meister Eckhart puts it, to “sink eternally from letting go to letting go into the One.”  Prayer is sometimes a process of letting go.

Eckhart also prays this way: “I pray God rid me of God.”  If we can let go of God, we can also let go of our imagining or demanding  what is most desired by us and best for us.

Stay open to surprises in your prayer.  I associate surprise with the Holy Spirit.  Often God has bigger plans for us than we could ever imagine.  If it is true, as Eckhart teaches, that “the soul grows by subtraction and not by addition,” then there are times when we are invited into a place of subtraction.  And our soul grows larger there.

It is always important to keep in mind that prayers of intercession are not the most profound prayers.  Gratitude is.  “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank you’, that would suffice", says Eckhart.  God is not a Santa Claus in the sky.  We are changed by prayer because God does not need our prayers; we do.

~ Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox




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