This Sunday, as happens most all Sundays, several people asked the community to join them in prayer for someone suffering a loss or hardship. They all seemed comforted to know this would happen. Will these prayers change anything? You may have seen research showing neurological phenomena in the frontal lobes of the brain in praying people. If not, check out the work of Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, summarized in many news reports on-line. What should we make of this? Is this a physical explanation for the experience of God people describe in prayer, negating any spiritual reality? Or does it confirm that something real is happening in prayer: a spiritual reality with physical manifestations?
Christians expect spiritual realities to have physical manifestations. That’s why we should all love science. It reveals more and more and more cause for wonderment. Our essential Christian claim is this: The force for good we call “God” was manifest in the person of Jesus. Unseen reality became seeable. And in Jesus, the world saw a love for all humankind that knew no limits. When we bless bread and wine each Sunday, as Jesus asked us to do, we declare that this love was powerful enough to bring our physical reality into being: “In your infinite love you made us for yourself.” Obviously, a lot of things about our reality do not reflect “infinite love.” But in Jesus, the first cause of all being renews the enterprise of making all reality embody infinite love. Being Christian is supposed to mean offering oneself to be used in that wonderful unfolding. [If this sounds different from the impression “Christians” in our time have given you, check out an authoritative voice: Irenaeus of Lyon, an early bishop who was only two generations removed from Jesus’ time, and his writings, where this renewal of the Creator’s enterprise is called “recapitulation.”]
You could define prayer as anything we think, feel, do or say in support of God’s drive to make all reality embody infinite love. Our prayers add love to reality. We actually have the power to create this natural resource! Because of Jesus, we know this offering will not be wasted. Can you give testimony?