“God has decided not to be remote, but immediate.” (Rowan Williams)
An especially good article on prayer by Rowan Williams in the Aug. 6, 2014 Christian Century magazine expounded upon some golden nuggets from Origen On Prayer. Origen (approx. 150 – 254 CE), an early Christian writer and teacher, lived in Alexandria, Egypt and taught in various locations around the Eastern Mediterranean. He was imprisoned in the persecutions of the 250’s and seems to have died as a result of injuries and tortures he received there. A brilliant academic who lived what he taught and died for it too.
One question Origen deals with in his book on prayer is one you may have wondered about, I know I have. “If God knows what we are going to ask, why bother to pray?” Origen’s answer, in Rowan Williams words, is: “God knows, of course, what we are going to say and do, but God has decided that God will work out God’s purposes through what we decide to say and do. So if it is God’s will to bring something about, some act of healing or reconciliation, some change for the better in the world, God has chosen that your prayer is going to be part of a set of causes that makes that happen. So, you’d better get on with it, as you and your prayer are part of God’s overall purpose for the situation in which God is going to work.”
It seems God is enlisting partners not creating puppets. And prayer is the way to get in on what God is doing. “God has decided to be an intimate friend and to make us part of God’s family” (RW). We pray on that basis. And we work on that basis too.
We are, as St. Paul writes, to work out our salvation… for it is God who is at work in us, enabling us to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.
Maybe prayer and work are two sides of the same coin? A coin that reads “In God We Trust” on both sides. For if God’s love is the basis for our prayer and work, then the currency of this partnership with God is our trust.
Trust that we are what God has made us, partners not puppets, and God has created us in Christ for good works, which God has prepared beforehand to be our way of life (Eph. 2:10). Pray to be in on what God is doing. Work as God works in you. Trust God to work God’s purpose out.