I have been pondering more about prayer in the last day.
Do you remember the story of the Fisher King? His land is dying because he is mortally wounded, and no one can save him or his kingdom, until Sir Perceval (on his quest for the Holy Grail) asks him the Necessary Question. In some mystical versions of the story, Sir Perceval simply asks the Fisher King why he is suffering, or he asks him, “What do you need?” Being asked the right question is part of the Wounded King’s healing. So too, perhaps, with prayer. On Friday, the students who gathered in my room and asked if they could pray for me asked me what I needed them to pray about. There is some incredible power in that intensely human interaction in the moment of asking someone,
“May I pray for you?” or
“How can I pray for you?”
“What do you need?”
There is an ethical question related to informed consent when praying for people. Not everyone appreciates being prayed for, especially from a particular religious perspective. Asking the question, simply and with love, gives someone the opportunity to graciously refuse the offer of prayer.
There is someone in my life who believes pretty firmly that I am spiritually misguided. She has tried many different tactics that feel to me very much like she is trying to pressure and manipulate me into changing my basic belief system. Would I want her to be praying for me? Would this feel like a further sort of spiritual manipulation? Possibly. Still, I think I would welcome prayer, even from someone in a situation like this. I don’t think that the Great Mystery is going to change me against my will–and prayer opens a channel, casts a web. Prayer is as likely to change the one who prays as it is to change the one prayed for. Perhaps if she and I would pray for each other, we might find ourselves in a circle that could contain us both. The next time I feel attacked, I think I will suggest that we pray for each other.
And a final word. I don’t always use the term prayer to mean what I mean. Like God, I think the idea of prayer is too big to be contained in the box of a single word. Up there, I called it casting a web. Opening a channel. It’s sending energy. Sending light. Being hopeful on your behalf. Finding feathers. Holding the bowl. Holding stones. Holding. Always holding.
How may I hold you?
1. Catching up
2. Catching new visions
3. Holding and being held
4. Plotting goodness
May we walk in Beauty. May we hold each other always.