READ THE PASSAGE | Prayer and the Powers

Prayer is never a private act. It may be the interior battlefield where the decisive victory is first won, before engagement in the outer world is even attempted
"For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself."
"For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself."Amazon

We are not easily reduced to prayer. We who grope toward praying today are like a city gutted by fire. The struggle against injustice has exacted from us an awful cost.

In a similar period with similar struggles, Camus wrote, “There is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is tragedy in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this tragedy.

For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice.

We have in our own experience discovered the mystery of the Beast of the abyss: He can allow the righteous to destroy him because he is virtually assured that in so doing they will be changed into his likeness. I will not attempt to make a case for the importance of prayer.

Those who do not believe in its efficacy simply illustrate the effectiveness of the Powers in diminishing our humanity. There are few rational objections to praying that carry any force, since they are all spin-offs from a particular worldview that permits or forbids prayer, and no one arrives at a worldview on wholly rational grounds.

Those who pray do so not because they believe certain intellectual propositions about the value of prayer, but simply because the struggle to be human in the face of suprahuman Powers requires it. The act of praying is itself one of the indispensable means by which we engage the Powers.

It is, in fact, that engagement at its most fundamental level, where their secret spell over us is broken and we are reestablished in a bit more of that freedom which is our birthright and potential.

Prayer is never a private act. It may be the interior battlefield where the decisive victory is first won, before engagement in the outer world is even attempted.

If we have not undergone that inner liberation, whereby the individual strands of the nets in which we are caught are severed, one by one, our activism may merely reflect one or another counterideology of some counter-Power.

We may simply be caught up in a new collective passion, and fail to discover the transcendent possibilities of God pressing for realization here and now. Unprotected by prayer, our social activism runs the danger of becoming self-justifying good works, as our inner resources atrophy, the wells of love run dry, and we are slowly changed into the likeness of the Beast.

The kind of prayer of which I speak may or may not involve regular regimens, may or may not be sacramental, may or may not be contemplative, may or may not take traditional religious forms.

It is in any case not a religious practice externally imposed, but an existential struggle against the “impossible,” against an antihuman collective atmosphere, against images of worth and value that stunt and wither full human life.

Prayer, in short, is the field-hospital in which the diseased spirituality that we have contracted from the Powers can most directly be diagnosed and treated.

I will not attempt a comprehensive discussion of prayer. Others far wiser and more experienced have done so already. I want to focus on only one aspect of prayer, almost universally ignored: the role of the Powers in intercessory prayer.

We shall examine (1) the role of intercessors in creating a desirable future, (2) the initiative God takes in praying in us, (3) the capacity of the Powers to frustrate God’s answering our prayers, and (4) prayer and the problem of evil.

Excerpt From: Walter Wink. “Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination.”

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