Prayer Is Not a Tool for Bending God
Monitor, July 23, 2003
Box 1177, Concord, NH 03302-1177
It’s unsettling to agree with someone who routinely trashes my deeply
held values. But I must admit that Pat Robertson, in his call for prayer
concerning the Supreme Court (Monitor, July 19), comes close to making two
points I can support.
Robertson writes, “There is a higher tribunal than the U.S. Supreme
Court.” If by “higher tribunal,” Robertson means God, then there’s a
statement I can accept. It’s true that the God I feel close to seems less
like a tribunal and more like a vital, loving presence, but I’m confident
that God, however we define that term, is a greater, more cohesive force than
any human institution ever has been or will be.
In the same piece, Robertson writes that “no culture has ever endured . .
.” I can buy that, too, and history bears us out. Sooner or later, every
human endeavor, however vast and long-lived, suffers the same mortality its
human sustainers do.
Of course, Robertson writes past this truth to say, “But no culture has
ever endured that has turned openly to homosexuality.” One can as truthfully
say that no culture has ever endured that has turned openly to wood-chopping
or hair-combing, simply because no culture has endured, regardless of its
activities. Human cultures and societies emerge, flourish, falter and die,
just like the mortals who comprise them.
What I, a professed Christian in 21st-century North America, object to is
Robertson’s call for a “prayer offensive.” Prayer can take many
forms—petition, gratitude, praise, quiet listening for the Spirit’s
promptings and more—but surely prayer should never be “offensive.” It is
not a weapon. It is not a tool for bending God, or other persons, to the will
we wish God to have. It is, rather, an effort to conform ourselves, with
humility and patience, to God’s desire for us.
I will pray, Mr. Robertson, not with you, but for you, and for myself. I
will not pray that judges succumb to infirmity or disease and retire, or that
laws be passed or repealed, because there is no way for us to fully understand
how God manifests in human affairs. I will pray instead that God, whom you and
I cannot fathom, uses both of us in the accomplishment of divine will whatever
that will portends, for you or for me, or for the governance and jurisprudence
of our nation.
—Jane Hunt, Concord
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