The Rev. Justin Hoye, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo.: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,’ (Romans 8:26) are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.”
Prayer opens us to truths we are anxious to sidestep. Prayer offered in humility can cause discomfort, raising our consciousness to see realities (injustice, violence, idolatry) we would prefer to ignore. Petitions to live in a distinctive way, behave in a certain manner and renounce particular practices can be offensive. They shed light on us. When our prayers do not arise out of malleable hearts open to conversion and insight, our cry of offense might actually be a resistance to transformation. Even the Lord’s Prayer can be offensive to the hardened heart: the implication that a divine will should supersede my own or that I have committed any transgression that needs to be forgiven.
Christians pray to the Father, in his son, Jesus Christ, and are guided by the Holy Spirit. Our prayers are situated within this communion of love, and we seek deeper participation in it. To approach prayer with this in mind means I am more concerned with allowing God to widen my heart and less concerned with the offense that can arise from my prayers’ surfacing of uncomfortable realities.
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor of Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City: If your prayers are meant as blessings to a person or group of people that are racially, religiously, politically, socially or philosophically different and the members of your faith take offense, stop praying for the people who are different. Then redirect your prayers to the members of your faith, for they are the ones who need help.
The Earth, as far as we know, is one planet among many that has life. Every person comes forth from the one spirit. Every living thing on the Earth inhabits the one life force, which is the DNA system. Human beings are members of one species on the Earth designated as caretakers of the planet.
Every person is one individual doing the best he or she can with the life that’s been given. In my estimation it only makes sense to usher forth prayers of gratitude and wellness to the one whether it be the Earth, spirit, life, human beings, individuals or all in one .
A wonderful universal prayer of wellness is, “I wish all people well; I wish all people happiness; I wish all people free of all suffering.” If somebody takes offense at that, wish them well, wish them happiness, wish them free of all suffering.Send your questions for our panel of religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108. Send email to email@example.com.