Our church prays for the homeless and then provides supplies for their apartment
(made available by a local agency). That’s reconciling prayer with action.
We’ve touched on Centering and Appreciation as important features of prayer. To continue my acronym of C-A-R-E, I needed to choose a good R word. I was surprised how many candidates might work.
For example, Restore, Relate, Repent, Reflect, and Request all convey concepts related to prayer. But they didn’t quite fit my desire to include those ideas, plus the action of moving forward.
And the winner is: Reconcile
It conveys healing action and suggests looking forward. “Looking forward” is a synonym for hope, a fundamental human need. To me, it means there’s a future with more wholeness.
Reconcile comes from Latin terms that meant back and bring together. It not only implies restoring a previous condition, such as bringing people back together in friendly relationships, but that things can coexist in harmony. It evokes a sense of balance and agreement. And all those concepts indicate healing.
Reconciliation is all about relationships—the ones that affect you, others, and all creation. What is your relationship with yourself? Do you tear yourself down or build yourself up? I recently saw a meme on Facebook that said, I didn’t realize I was a bully until I listened to what I said to myself. Now, there’s a place to work on reconciliation!
What is your relationship with others? No, not just your family and those friendly BBQ neighbors. How do you mentally treat every person of a different race, a different socio-economic status? Or, those folks who attend a different place of worship…or don’t go anywhere?
What is your relationship to the environment? Are you reconciled to your interdependency with every particle of matter, every creature, every event that affects all others?
Reconcile is a verb. It’s something we do. Making it happen requires several steps. It starts with empathy, feelings of unease, or a desire for greater fulfillment—and that only scratches the surface of the need for reconciliation.
Traditionally, at this point in prayer, we ask someone else to help with our problem—whether it’s a god or other spiritual foundation. We have expectations the problem will be taken care of by that other power. However, when we realize WE need to change to reconcile our situation, then our mind starts forming workable solutions.
• Any act of love; of wanting to make someone or something whole.
• Experiencing the Sacred in the Oneness of life.
• A loving change in our relationships; linking ourselves to others.
• Releasing anything that’s holding us back from being whole.
• Dealing with grief, loss, brokenness.
• A change of heart, a transformation that is uplifting.
• Becoming renewed with increased appreciation and capabilities.
• Integrating our mind and heart so we live more holistically.
This list could go on forever. What would you add?
The Process of Reconciling
In prayer, we focus on, contemplate, and build on, our reconciling intentions. For example, if one prays for healing a broken relationship and then does something concrete to mend that relationship, you engage in the two phases of practical prayer.
Reconciling includes confession. One has to appreciate where they are, what their personal situation is. This needn’t be self-flagellation. It’s just recognizing one’s finiteness. Or, sometimes it’s a very specific admission of something that has hurt the relationship between you and others. If we can’t admit it, we can’t reconcile the relationship.
Here’s where I like Canadian pastor Gretta Vosper’s thoughts on confession. She says, “There is, nestled within the folds of confessional prayer, an element that is crucial to our spiritual health: humility. …Humility allows us to view our imperfection as something natural and true, and with which we must wrestle, often on a daily basis.” This path to reconciliation “is honest self-examination, humility, and commitment to wholeness and peace,” in the creation of healthy, fulfilling relationships.
The Power of Reconciling
What’s the value of reconciliation? Hope, harmony, healing, wholeness. It doesn’t get much more sacred than that. There’s a word for this condition. It’s called Atonement. We used to think that was something Jesus did for us. But many modern writers see its value and expression as At-One-Ment: i.e., being happily reconciled within the abundant life we seek through prayer and action.
Next comes what I see as the biggest change in prayer through progressive thinking. It’s probably the most important and the hardest element: the E of prayer.
_____________________________ Art Fabian — February 13, 2019
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Art Fabian is on a spiritual journey to enjoy more aliveness and to share the goal of wholeness with others. He has no special training or degrees in this field. He’s not a religious scholar or theologian. However, he hopes you might also enjoy walking towards a richer life that benefits us, our neighbors, and all creation.