Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 122: Prayer
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 122: Prayer

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

According to the Genesis account, Eden was a paradise because Adam, Eve (and presumably all the creatures) walked and talked with God. Aligned with their creator, they were at peace with God and with each other.

Consequently, they had no shame or secrets, and they were at-ease in their nakedness. Furthermore, they trusted God and God's purpose, and presumably they did not experience existential angst, which arises from uncertainties about who we are and what our purpose in life is. Adam and Eve lost paradise when their primary dialogue partners became individuals other than God - the serpent, each other, and the inner voices of their own desires.

Listening to these other voices, they fell into rivalry with God, which made it impossible for them to continue their harmonious existence with God and with each other. Upon their dismissal from Eden, humans lost their direct connection with God, and the resulting uncertainties and anxieties about their existence have plagued human conscious and subconscious minds ever since.

Prayer is one way that people attempt to establish a relationship with God. Jesus sought to show people how to re-establish a proper relationship with God, which, Jesus asserted, had been corrupted by the legalism and heartlessness of Hebrew authorities.

Jesus prayed, "thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10), and I think we likewise should pray for guidance (mediated by the Holy Spirit) to do God's will. For example, Peter and John "prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:15). Many people have a sense that God is communicating with them, but sometimes the message they receive is violent and destructive. How do we know that we have received the Holy Spirit? The answer, I think, is contained in the passages "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and "God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).

When we hear the voice of hatred and destructiveness, we are likely listening to a false god of our own, human making. Humans have created such gods since the beginning of human culture to justify violence and scapegoating.

The Apostle Paul provided further instructions on prayer: "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). How can we pray constantly? I think Paul was trying to say that everything we say and do should be focused on God. Similarly, Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7). Paul did not assure people that everything would turn out well. Rather, he said that, by rejoicing in God and giving thanks, our hearts and minds would be in Christ, and we would find peace in our souls.

Go on to: Part 123: Healing in the Synagogue
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