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祷告的功能不是影响神,而是改变祈祷者的本质。

这些话都归咎于索伦·基尔凯加尔德,但是这种情绪也是其他神学家和作家的反思。 我相信特蕾莎修女倾向于一个类似的想法,当她说,“祈祷不是在问。 祷告就是把自己放在神的手中,按照祂的特性,在我们心中的深处听祂的声音。”

祷告并不是试图向神恳求或说服神赐给我们我们想要的东西或我们认为我们需要的东西。 祷告就是选择一种姿势,使我们能够接受神的影响,并接受神对我们的影响。

这个想法是失去了我作为一个孩子。 我更习惯做祷告作为交易-我给上帝一些东西(我的时间和注意力),上帝给了我一些东西。 当然,它从来没有变成我希望的方式,所以我只是假设我是不好的。 直到我妈生病了。

首先是乳腺癌,其次是缓解的庆祝活动。 然后我还是大学一年级的时候,癌症又回来了。 一对夫妇多年,多次治疗后,她最后一次住院。 我爸爸打电话告诉我,可能没有太多的时间,我打包了一个袋子,我可以尽快。 我告诉我的教授,我将要离开校园,从爱荷华州西北到密苏里州西北,我做了我的路,从 I-29 号公路下降到西北密苏里州,一路祷告。 我祈祷我妈妈会康复,她不会痛苦,上帝会给她力量。

我在中午左右进入她的医院时,继续排练同样的祈祷。 到了晚上,当她的身体开始出现痛苦的迹象,我的祈祷改变了。 “主啊,请帮助她平安地过去。”

这是我从来没有想到会祈祷的祈祷。 多年后,当我继续为她的死亡而处理我的悲痛时,我开始明白,祈祷的做法改变了我的那一天。 我坚持我母亲的绝望已经演变成了别的东西。 勇气,也许? 和平? 相信她是属于上帝的 不管是什么,这是我自己不拥有的东西。 它必须给我。

我对这个经历的反思越多,我就越接受对祷告的新理解。 它已经变得不那么关于一个交易,更多的是通过住在神面前来经历转变。

上个星期日,在叙事讲座中,我们在使徒行传 1 中遇到了基督的升天。 门徒们如何回应这个惊人的事件呢? 他们致力于祷告(第 14 节)。 今天,在使徒行教 3 中,我们看到彼得和约翰医治了一个跛脚的人,他们在前往寺庙祈祷的路上遇到的人。

我想知道,如果门徒没有这么坚定地祷告,彼得和约翰会注意到这个人吗? 如果他们不去圣殿祷告的时候,那天他们还经过那门吗? 当然,许多其他人已经通过门没有采取多少通知的人要求施舍,和其他人已经注意到足以分享几个硬币,然后继续。 那么,是什么导致彼得和约翰停下来和这个人交往? 这可能是祈祷的实践吗?

如果祷告帮助我们提供给神,并接受神的影响,那么也许它帮助我们看到这个世界,就像神所看到的那样。 如果祷告不是关于改变神,而是关于改变我们,那么也许当我们祷告的时候,我们可以期待神可以利用我们来解决世界的需要。

在 COVID-19 大流行病这一悲剧中,承诺祈祷会感到被动。 除非我们通过一个新的镜头来看祷告。 如果祷告改变了我们,那么祈祷国家的医治和保护亲人和陌生人是一种勇气的行为 —— 当上帝委托我们作为合作伙伴回答我们祈祷的祷告时,勇气服从。

那么,我们怎么祈祷... 所有的 “前线” 工人? 对于所有目前与病毒作斗争的人?... 对于所有谁失去了工作,金融稳定,谁是在失去住房的风险?... 对所有特别易受伤害的人来说:老年人、有先前条件的人、不易获得医疗保健的人、生活在不卫生和人口密集的难民营中的难民等等。

我们如何祈祷-我们选择的确切词语-不一定是优先事项. 能力在于选择祈祷和住在神面前。

所以,教堂,来吧。 让我们祈祷吧

Megan Hodgin

Megan Hodgin is the Senior Pastor of the First Reformed Church of Scotia,  (New York).
Megan is a pastor and teacher, a trained facilitator, and aspiring coach.
A lover of big questions and deeply authentic relationships.
A gatherer of stories and seeker of shalom.

15 Comments

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    Thank you so much for this, and the story about you and your mom, and the insight on Peter and John, and the prayers you suggest. I think you’re so right, except I would say one thing; I don’t think it has to be an either-or. For me as a child to ask God to bless my food, and expect God to do it because I asked, is more than a transaction. Otherwise the prayer parables in St. Luke are hollow (the widow, the guest at night, snakes and eggs). Just that one demurral.

    • Megan J Hodgin says:

      Daniel, thank you for your response. You are correct in saying it is neither one nor the other. That is rarely so in this life of faith. “Both and” is usually more accurate in terms of the way God works. Thank you for bringing that nuance to light.

  • Barb Dewald says:

    Amen! Thank you, Megan. Well said. Prayer is transformational.

  • John Kleinheksel says:

    Good to hear from you, friend Megan!
    I am still grateful for all you did for Kairos W. MI when you were on the Board. Thank you Megan!
    Openness to God. Communion with our Lord. Being led by our Lord. Energized by our Lord to take action.
    Yes!
    Question: I thought the passage for today’s lectionary was from Acts 1, not Acts 3.
    O well. The emphasis on prayer is timely. Lord, help us through this time of global crisis. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    • Megan J Hodgin says:

      John, thank you for your greeting. Just a quick note regarding the lectionary – I mentioned above that I was referencing the “narrative lectionary,” which is different than the Revised Common Lectionary. If you would like. to learn more about it, you can browse workingpreacher.org. Peace to you!

  • Thank you for this most magnificent blog. I completely understand this as I had similar prayers at my mother’s death bed. Thank you. God bless you. Stay well.

  • Brian Keepers says:

    Megan, this is beautiful, thoughtful, and so wise. Thanks for your vulnerability about struggling with prayer while your mom was sick. Even though there is part of me that wants the transactional nature of prayer to be true (because then I’m in charge!), there is something so much more freeing and ultimately expansive about the transformational nature of prayer. As you say, it also calls us to responsibility. Thank you for this. It’s so good!

  • Ruth Boven says:

    Megan, thanks for this wonderful blog. It’s so great to hear from you again. I appreciate your thoughts about the transformational nature of prayer, shaped in a time of pain and crisis. It’s helpful for today.

  • Chris Godfredsen says:

    Megan, thank you for this today. It is a blessing to learn with and from you!

  • RLG says:

    Thanks, Megan, for your perspective on prayer. As I understand your position, it comes close to, or is the same as that of, Kierkegaard or Mother Teresa. Intercessory prayer is not us interceding to God (or to Jesus Christ) in behalf of those in need so that he would act in their behalf. Rather prayer heightens our awareness of God in a given situation and compels us to act in God’s behalf.

    The Christian (even Reformed) suggestion that Christians should pray as though it all depends on God, but act as though it all depends on you, fits the perspective that you suggest in your article. So when we see good come through our efforts, we thank God for what he has done. But when we see little accomplished or slow progress being made (such as with Covid-19 or the Holocost), shouldn’t that also be laid at God’s feet?

    The reality is that only the second half of that prayer suggestion is true, that what gets accomplished is through the choices and efforts of people (Christian or not). So prayer, in your view, has less to do with God and more with being a self motivator. We influence ourselves through prayer. Why not just remove God like those who don’t believe in God or prayer and out of concern for others, do good? Isn’t that really the bottom line?

    • Tom says:

      No RLG that is not the real bottom line for those who’s pride comes from the love of themself that comes from the love others have given them! That love, I believe, you RLG can see in the articles and comments! and you desire to experience that love you see being shared! Which is why you are posting here! Maybe in the hope of a reply showing love for the pain you are in! I hope to show love with not trying to prove you wrong but I am asking why are you so critical of the love being talked about?

  • Tom Ackerman says:

    I am surprised that no one has commented on the graphic accompanying your post. It was a wonderful addition to your thought-provoking words and both my wife and I enjoyed it. For those of us practicing rather severe social distancing because of age and/or other health concerns, prayer remains as an important way to support our church community and our social community. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Lynn Barnes says:

    Beautiful Meghan, and I hope I can remember that possibly at anytime I pray it may be that I need the change.

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