Unlike Phyllis Tickle who says, “Prayer is the natural habitat and function of the soul as well as it’s natural desire,” Karl Barth takes an opposite approach saying, “Prayer is not an act that comes naturally to us.” Humans pray. It’s what we do. It’s how we connect with God. But, like Phyllis and Karl, we get caught between the possibility of prayer—it’s innate habit within us—and it’s impossibility—the way it can feel at times fabricated, inauthentic, contrived, hollow. We are not God, so our humanness always seems to separate us from God, yet scripture affirms again and again, “nothing can separate you” from the divine one we so deeply yearn for.
The prayer below is by priest Michael Hollings (everyone should pray, he said; pray as you walk, and priests themselves should be “pools of prayer – serene and available”) and Etta Gullick (lecturer on prayer at Oxford). May this prayer connect you, in perfect imperfection, to the Holy One, already always in our midst.
Let us pray:
You love with an everlasting love because you are love.
And so you are patiently effective always and everywhere,
even when we cannot feel your presence.
Teach us to love without wanting to control;
to love without limit;
to love you, our friends, and also our enemies.
Teach us to be patient in love when love is not returned;
teach us to be patient even when you are apparently far away.
Teach us loving, waiting, patience
when there is no answer to our questions and our doubt.
—Michael Hollings and Etta Gullick
We are hosting virtual coffee hour online after worship, Sundays at 11 a.m. Please join us.