It has sat uneasily with me for years but as I had this conversation I started to think about something Jesus said and wondered... In the midst of some discussion, debate emails one of the sides of the conversation threw in the old, “Having prayed about it a lot we think...” You can see why it has sat uneasily for so long. There is something about this way of putting an argument that leaves it rather difficult to stay in the conversation. It is a little decisive. It is also very common among the student age that I work in but far from unique to them. “I prayed about it and so I am not... or I am...” As I unpacked it in my own particular context I called my fellow converser, thankfully away from email, and over a cup of coffee. “I’m not sure it is very good in such a discussion to throw in the “Having prayed a lot about it we think...” signature. “Sounds as if you are asking God to be the cavalry in your argument because you are not actually too sure of yourself,” I suggested. “Fair point,” he graciously replied smiling, “That is exactly what we were doing.” Utter respect was my only response to such an honest admission.
I do believe that there are a few reasons why young Christians particularly feel they have to add the “I prayed a lot and...” signature. Their utter fear about not being right throws them down that route. However, that is not where I want to take this blog posting. My concern is more the self righteous nature of it. It is almost a “well I’ve prayed more than you so therefore I am telling you that I must be right...” And I suddenly began to think that this something of what Jesus was saying when he told us to go into a secret room away from everyone when we were praying. This was of course in the middle of the Sermon On The Mount where he was asking his disciples to not be like the Pharisees who are all about show and would pray on street corners to earn their pious points. Isn’t this the same thing? We are flying the flag or our prayerfulness, shouting out our sense of pietistic superiority in order to become better than those around us.
When I am in conversation with a friend or even a brother or sister in some level of conflict, and sought after resolution, I will assume that they have prayed about it and hope that they assume that I have prayed about it and from a place of equal dependence on God’s grace and our looking through the same glass darkly I will discuss from the same flat playing field not lording it over them from a higher plain with my sense of greater piety.