Monday, September 26, 2016

A theology of prayer

Intercessors with ritual agency can follow divinely modeled instructions to resolve the problem of disastrous omens. Intercessors with magical agency are capable of divinely empowered speech and can slip into the gods’ roles with the gods’ consent and help. Intercessors with persuasive agency, in contrast, rely on traits and resources available to humanity at large, although such intercessors may enjoy special access to the divine (a common trait among intercessors in human contexts as well). Because persuasive agency is the only kind of agency depicted in the biblical texts, the skill with which these intercessors deploy it is crucial indeed.—Forestalling Doom page 234

<idle musing>
As I was reading this, all kinds of prayers that I've read from the ancient world came to mind, along with the techniques they used. Some obviously magical, some more do ut des, some repetitive—as if to wear the god out until the request was granted—, some full of rhetorical flourishes, and some, especially the from the Psalms, just the pouring out of a heart in distress. And then the admonition by Jesus about vain repetition came to mind.

So what do we do with all these data? I'm still (after 40+ years as a Christian) trying to formulate a theology of prayer. I think the best I can do is, "It's messy, but it works (sometimes)!" What do you think?
</idle musing>

No comments: