Friday, October 16, 2009

Watchfully Praying with Open Eyes

When I was at the Moltmann Conference, a comment by Moltmann struck me -- it was about how we pray. He pointed to our typical posture, which is to bow our heads, fold our hands, and close our eyes, looking inwardly. He asked us whether this was a Christian way of praying, or whether we should pray differently, with our eyes open?

Moltmann takes up this question in a chapter of his book, written with his wife Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, Passion for God: Theology in Two Voices (WJK, 2003). After noting Jesus' dark night of the soul, and the disciples inability to stay awake and watch with him in the garden, after pointing us to ecological issues like Chernobyl and Climate Change, which are happening around us, he takes us to our prayer life.

He asks us to consider what we are seeking when we pray. Is it not a cure for the "numbing addictions of the secular world"? Then he writes:

In prayer we wake up to the world as it is spread out before God in all its heights and depths. We perceive the sighing of our fellow creatures and hear the cries of the created beings that have fallen dumb. We hear the song of praise of the blossoming spring, and chime in with it. We feel the divine love for life that allows pain to touch us to the quick and kindles joy. Real prayer to God awakens all our senses and alerts our minds and spirits. The person who prays, lives more attentively. (p. 62)
He goes on to note that we are called to pray, not mystically with closed eyes, but messianically with open ones, pointing out that the pictures of the earliest Christians show them praying while "standing, looking up, with outstretched arms and wide-open eyes, ready to walk or leap forward" (pp. 62-63). How then should we pray?

2 comments:

Diana said...

How should we pray? never-ceasing.. in movement - dancing, skipping... with groups.. lying on backs in a circle, heads in the center, feet out, holding each others hands up, passing the prayer around the circle (this works well for youth who are a bit timid, they are still praying 'out loud', but not having to look at each other, and the sound moves 'up'... at traffic lights (green - thanks God for helping me get where I need to be as I left late... red - thanks for reminding me to 'slow down' my life, that I am not in control, YOU are!)... 2 or a few people, in circle, each can add only one word to the prayer (no one has control... the prayer can change quickly... God is in control..)... with play-dough or clay? letting your hands work while thoughts are on prayer... other artwork prayers (with community or alone)... raising your voice in song!... moving your body... 'living' in 'communion' with God...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Diana, no reason to pigeon-hole prayer. I always imagine there are many more correct ways than questionable ways to communicate with the Supreme. We don’t want to bore anyone for goodness sake! David Mc