Lenten Reflection: Praying through Brian McLaren's Naked Spirituality
Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
2 Corinthians 3:4-11
My church has a Wednesday night book study for Lent this year. We are reflecting on Brian McLaren’s book, Naked Spirituality. The leaders of the study present pieces of the book and lead the group through various exercises that allow for quiet reflection and meditation.
Two weeks ago, we talked about three kinds of prayer. The theme of the first prayer was “sorry.” McLaren suggests that “the most important conversation we have is not with God, but the conversation we have with ourselves before we speak with God.” Will we put on a false face? Or will we be honest? And so in this prayer of “sorry,” we enter a process of self-examination so that we can see the difference between what is real and what is imaginary.
The next prayer is “help.” McLaren says that an immature prayer asks God to remake the world in our image for our convenience, and a mature prayer asks God to make us in God’s image so that we may respond to the world. We did an exercise that moved me deeply. We made a list of frustrations or problems, starting with little ones and moving to big ones, and we transformed those frustrations into mature prayers that asked God to remake us in God’s image so that we can respond to the world.
The third prayer was the prayer of “please.” This is a prayer of intercession. When we see suffering in the world, there are many possible reactions we can take, such as action, prayer, intervention, nothing, despair, or we can explain it away. But as Christians, we are called to prayer at the very least. And in prayer, we can feel connection, we can feel solidarity, or we can let go. In this prayer, we become a bridge between the needs of others and God. We become God’s love in the world for others.
I invite you to try out these Lenten prayers.
Nancy Neal is associate for denominational women’s organization relations with Bread for the World. Check out her work on the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days.
Photo caption: An attendee prays during the second day of Bread for the World's 2011 Gathering at American University in Washington, D.C., on June 12, 2011. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl
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