We imagine that today, during the Sunday celebrations of all the Christians of the world, prayers of intercession for peace in Ukraine are formulated. And that these are expressed, as usual, in the form of requests to God that look more or less like this: “That the war in Ukraine will end and that a just peace will come to this troubled country, let us pray to the Lord” or ” God, father of all men, we ask you to change the hearts of those who oppress the Ukrainian people”, etc.
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Why are these demands unacceptable to a 21st century Christian steeped in modern culture? In what way can they, moreover, discredit Christianity in the eyes of agnostics and atheists because of the images of “God” and of man that they convey?
A first reason is that they give “God” a representation of limitless and arbitrary omnipotence which would require, in order to intervene, that we kneel down in front of him to cry out our distress to him or proclaim our deepest desires. ardent: what is this divinity who feeds on incessant prayers to condescend to distribute his favours?
Poor image of the Christian “God”, who looks more like the deities of yesteryear, whose power was effective to the extent of prayers and sophisticated rites. What is this “God”, who is proclaimed to be love, and who would take pleasure in being prayed for to spread his kindness, as if he were deaf and distracted?
But there is more: it is also the representation of the man who is at stake in this attitude. These supplications manifest, on the part of those who profess them, an undeniable abdication of their responsibilities. Their demands are, in reality, tasks that fall to them by the very reason of their quality as human beings. Who, indeed, should bring comfort to those who suffer? Other humans. Who must create conditions of peace between individuals and peoples? Each citizen, according to his means. One could multiply the examples of requests to “God”, which, in reality, depend on human responsibility. This way of proceeding grows neither “God” nor man.
The stripping of the human sciences
Objection! In the Bible, the Psalms and the Gospels in particular, aren’t believers recommended to call on “God” for help? “Ask and you shall receive,” says Jesus. The “Our Father” is an instant prayer of request. What to answer? First, that Jesus does not fail to recall that “God” does not need prayers to be present to men and their needs (Mt 6,5-8 and Mt 7,21-23). It is then necessary to place these remarks in their historical and cultural context. For the authors of the psalms as for Jesus, “God” is a transcendent reality, living in heaven and capable of working miracles where man finds his impotence.
→ MAINTENANCE. War in Ukraine: “Praying for peace is always a path of conversion”
But with the progress of the sciences and the stripping of the human sciences, the domain over which until then “God” reigned supreme has practically shrunk and become secularized. There is no need today to involve “God” in the explanation of the mysteries of nature, in the understanding of the psychology of the human being… More than ever before, we are aware that it is in our hands that ” God” – the one Jesus taught us, this reality mysteriously present in the most intimate of each human being – has placed the fate of our fellow human beings.
Consequently, what prayer of petition remains possible that is worthy of “God” as well as of man? What remains in common with the expressions of yesteryear is first of all the need for meditation, for a time of silence that allows us to be present to ourselves and to our mystery.
How can the Christian prayer of petition then be expressed in an authentic way? If “God” is present in the most intimate of beings and permanently does, so to speak, his work as “God”, which is to inspire the taste and the desire for truth in the most secret of consciences, then the the only valid prayer of petition is no longer to ask “God” to intervene. It is to ask ourselves, personally and in community, to be available to the demands that arise in us from the most intimate when we have the concern to live without defrauding, according to the spirit that animated Jesus. How is it possible ? By changing the way we express ourselves.
→ CHRONICLE OF CHRISTIANE RANCE. “Strong Friends”
Let’s speak the truth so that our words are stimulating and do not remain simple generous incantations without a hold on reality. Thus, before “God”, recognized as the inner Source and Breath, Christians will behave like adults in the faith.