Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


What remains after the prayers?

Here is something I am chewing on, a quote by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz at On Faith
Just as people sometimes delude themselves that they are “in love,” so can they believe that they are praying, that they are having a religious experience, even though it is only a false spirituality.

A person may think he is in communion with holiness, in a state of divine love or fear – yet he is experiencing no more than illusions: not an experience coming from a true inner soul connection, but from an almost physiological phenomenon. A person finds himself in a certain atmosphere, in the company of others who enhance that mood; he is exposed to music or scents, and he responds. By way of analogy, sometimes when one person yawns, everyone else follows suit – not because they are tired, but simply as an imitative mechanism....

Victoria Logue's photo of a cemetary angel prayingA false prayer experience may be compared to the phenomenon known as false pregnancy. A woman shows all the signs of pregnancy, from morning sickness to an extended belly to birth pangs; but in the end there is nothing – only the illusion of pregnancy. The proof of authenticity is whether something has been brought into the world. If there is nothing but air, then there was nothing but air from the very beginning.

If after religious rapture passes, nothing remains, the absence of emotion indicates that all along it was no more than the imitation of true feeling. The value of a person’s prayer lies not in how much he cried out, how much he swayed, nor even how strong his emotions were, but in what remains of his experience after the prayers are over.
His comments in context are here: Prayer and Self Delusion and you can read the rest of the responses to their prayer discussion here What is prayer?.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

And now about prayer.
When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites
who love to pray publicly on street corners
and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.
I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get.

But when you pray, go away by yourself,
shut the door behind you,
and pray to your Father secretly.
Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

When you pray, don't babble on and on
as people of other religions [Gentiles] do.
They think their prayers are answered only
by repeating their words again and again.
Don't be like them, because your Father knows
exactly what you need even before you ask him!
Matthew 6:5-8 (New Living Translation)


  • At 2/06/2007 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How dare he judge which prayers are real and sincere. God hears ALL prayers! There is nothing to debate here!


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