Our Private Prayers And Scripture Reading Should Lead Us Back Out Into The World To Preach The Good News
Prayer’s Two Dimensons
One who wishes to grow in his or her faith as a Christian needs to do certain things. Faith is not passive. It is not some dreamy, other worldly condition that protects us from the difficulties of life, or simply makes us feel good. No. Our Christian faith requires of us both belief and a willingness to act in accord with our faith, even to take the risks of being ridiculed publicly. Why? Not just for our good, but for the good of all.
A Christian needs to know why faith is reasonable, why it is a natural part of our humanity, and what it requires of us beyond simple acclamation. How should a Christian do this? Every Christian should read the Bible regularly. But reading is not enough. The scriptures are more than stories about God. They are a road map for how one should live one’s life in communion with others, here and now, especially with the poor and the lost, as well as with those who might be one’s enemy.
Scripture tells us, too, that we must pray always, never get tired of praying. (Ephesians 6: 18-20) (1 Thessalonians5: 18.) But prayer has two dimensions; there is, of course, the prayer that one does in private, or the prayers said on one’s knees. But this is not enough. The other dimension of prayer is public; it is the prayer one does on one’s feet. Our very lives should be the active, public dimension of our private, inner, prayer.
Jesus, as always, is the model for our prayer. The Gospels tell us that before, after, and between every major event in Jesus’ life, He went off by himself to pray. His prayer never remained a matter of private comfort, though. It always led Him out to His public ministry, to preach, to heal, to challenge his brothers and sisters to turn away from darkness toward the light. He touched the lepers, He ate with the tax collectors, He saved and challenged the adulterous woman. He admonished both the civil authorities and the religious authorities for abusing their powers. So, too, must we. Our private prayer and reading of scripture must lead us back to the world. The world, right here and right now, needs us to live the Gospel publicly.