Healing the world

Daily Reading for February 11

How can we bear to pray for all the horrors of the world? The Quakers have a tradition of having “a concern,” usually seen as an area of good works. They believe that God gives each of us one particular concern: to work for peace, or with the blind, the elderly, the homeless, children, and so forth. Not for all the troubles in the world, but just for that one concern to which God is calling someone. And in good works, so in prayer.

Some of us may be called to pray for all the pain and problems of the world, as in the old Hasidic tale in which God says that he hasn’t destroyed the world because of the insistent prayers of a poor widow. But if praying for the whole world seems overwhelming to you, then ask God what specific problem you are called to pray for. I find that I can bear to look deeply at one large and terrible dilemma and hold it up to God in prayer. Opening myself in this way to the despair of one problem I may—with good conscience—say of the others, “They are too much for me, Lord. With gratitude I leave them to you.”. . .

I speak now not about healing prayer specifically but about the landscape of prayer—that deep opening to the Spirit which not only gives us an interior vision but influences how we see our exterior world. It is the Spirit of God who can lead us to see new ways of understanding the church, world, and civilization that are both tied to our traditions and open to the future.

From Healing in the Landscape of Prayer by Avery Brooke (Cowley Publications, 1996).

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