Reflection 9/27: Prayer Changes Everything
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
The last line of the reading from the epistle of James this Sunday sums up so much: Prayer covers a multitude of sins. Sins of commission that need to be forgiven. And sins of inattention and ignorance that need to be healed. Or as St. Paul said elsewhere, “pray without ceasing.”
How cheap and easy it is to say that someone or some condition is “in our thoughts and prayers.” Often, that’s the end of it; a broken promise. I believe that true and sincere thoughts and prayers take a long pause, specific intention, and commitment to something outside of ourselves. Prayer implies that we want to be heard, and we want our prayers to effect a change. That requires something palpable, measurable, and sacrificial from us.
Sculptors say that what they do is to free a statue from its armor of excess stone. Prayer is an active, direct action that births a similar freedom. Just like childbirth, prayer requires the willingness to pay a cost. Prayer requires a commitment that says in effect, we will take a spear for someone or something else. Prayer is not a pass-by. Rather it is a stop in front of what we’re praying for. Prayer should risk, at its ultimate, a broken heart.
I believe God listens to every prayer. I believe that God is listening to the prayers of all human beings. Prayer is the utmost statement of our belief in God’s true existence, and the intimate relationship we have with God. Prayers count. And the things we pray for count precisely because we are lifting them up in prayer. Prayer—as a cosmic lifeforce—changes everything.