Arnie (not his real name) has been the sole student of my course on effective prayer.
Sunday after church he told me he’d found a couple online resources about effective prayer, that he hoped we could review together. Each of them begins with the necessity of “belief.”
When he said this, I became nervous. There are many such sources online, but I’m not comfortable with them. On the one hand, trying to make myself “believe” that the outcome I pray for is inevitable, feels too much like wading into the world of delusion. On the other hand, although there are many New Testament references to “belief” in connection with prayer, I’m convinced that either (a) those expressions don’t come from the historical Jesus himself, or else (b) Jesus used that term to mean something very different from what we normally take it to mean today.
None of those whom I regard as experts in the field ever refer to belief this way. Never. Not once. Ever.
By Monday afternoon, I would feel my reservations had been powerfully confirmed.
1As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
The disciples want to place blame. Their posture can be referred to as fault-finding, judgment and condemnation. Jesus calls attention to the opportunity to heal, to do good, to make a beginning.
Thursday 2014-07-03. Jimmy came up to me at McDonald’s yesterday and sat down and talked about the incident. He doesn’t say he’d been drinking. He says people thought he’d been drinking.
Recall his psychiatric diagnoses.
Pastor sent me this clipping about the homeless squatters’ camp underneath the Jones Falls Expressway, which the City was about to raze — again. He thought the housing vouchers it mentions might be available to me. They’re not. A different detail caught my eye: the remark that many people in the camp “struggle with mental illness and addiction.” Note the “and.”