Questions and Prayers

The lectionary in two weeks gives us the Lucan version of the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples. So often almost worship wallpaper, I tried writing it as questions. I was thinking about young people when I wrote it, bu it may be for all of us.

The Prayer of Our Savior in Questions

O God where are you?
Are you in heaven or here with us?
If you are here, look around – do something.

Are you “ours” or everyone’s God?

Are you as tender as a parent …
as dangerous as a parent?

How can we make your name holy
or make it holy again when it has been abused,
used to justify every kind of harm?
Where is the laundry for your name?

Why don’t we recognize your will?
How do we bring about your peaceable realm?

Can we trust you with our daily needs
and live free of planning?

Will you teach us to be forgiving …
for their sake and our sake?

How do we walk away from temptation —
one step, twelve steps?
And is ‘deliver us from evil’
the kind of delivery
that means someone is being born?

What is the future? Can you really help us?
How can we reflect your glory?
When is … forever
and what do you want us to do
with our lives now?             Amen

A small portion of Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer

God, grant us the serenity
to live with questions which may never be answered.

God, grant us the courage
to ask the profound and foolish ones,
the personal and global ones,
the ones which betray that we have done things
we ought not to have done,
and those which make us appear naïve.

God, grant us the wisdom
to share our deepest concerns with people we trust,
to avoid people who give easy answers,
and to know the difference.

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5 Responses to Questions and Prayers

  1. Todd Jenkins says:

    This is a dangerous thing you have done. Turning the furniture of our faith into questions forces us to contemplate the answers; to confess the truth that has already surrounded us, including those truths that break open the the things we thought were truth and that we wanted to be truth; to listen for new truths that might not just rearrange the furniture in our comfortable little faith cottages, but could completely remodel them or even call for new additions; to face the uncomfortable reality that some answers may never be evident from this side of the edge of earth and sky.

    • Maren says:

      Wow you do get it and say in a much more profound way what I was reaching to touch.

      • Todd Jenkins says:

        I think your post and my response illustrate the nature of faith. Too often, we approach faith as a set of answers, which means that we are living as if it is settled, and complete. But when we realize that faith is much more an ongoing series of questions that we must answer afresh each day, then we must engage the world in a much more honest conversation. That’s precisely what your questions did for me. When you are squeezed to respond to the questions for yourself, the answers can be far more transformative than lounging around in and on someone else’s answers. Thank you for the invitation to answer!

      • Maren says:

        And so I spent the day at a Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (my great temptation when others are reading the newest theology) and among thirty year olds much tattooed and Latino fiction del muertos enthusiasts I found a few of my answers. It seems to always be the strangest places.

      • Todd Jenkins says:

        I read about a guy who used to hang out with the people on the fringe that polite society tried to ignore and sweep under the rug. He seemed to find great joy in proclaiming graciousness and good news to them.

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