Tag Archives: walter wangerin

One year ago… Unanswered prayer… a response and a theology

As I am sitting here at George Fox Sem, I am reminded of these posts from last year. Enjoy!

Folks, I want what I do to be for the village… the community… the place where the spiritual unites with the physical.

So, for me, taking classes at George Fox Seminary to get my certificate in spiritual formation is about more than just me. I am doing it because it is what I must do… for the community and for God.

I recently finished my semester paper for my class on prayer and as I wrote it with the community in mind it is important for me to share it here. I will be posting it up in sections over the next week or so. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

To read part 1, Starting with Prayer,  GO HERETo read part 2, Prayer and it’s place in the Spiritual Life (pt 2), GO HERETo read part 3, The difficulty of sustaining our prayer life, GO HERE

Unanswered prayer… a response and a theology

Perhaps the one of the most difficult reasons for maintaining a sustainable prayer practice and perhaps one of the most painful parts of being in relationship with a God who is so much greater than any of us. How do I respond to someone who prays for healing of a loved one and does not receive it? How do I respond to someone who prays in his infertility that God would give him children and yet still remains childless? So much pain and so many unknowns…

I do believe that God calls us to compassion and presence, but not necessarily answers. Compassion is entering into the suffering of another, as Jesus entered into our suffering. This is being the presence of Christ to my community. Compassion may very well be just sharing the tears and the burdens while so deeply dwelling in the terrible, “I do not know…” So someone who’s prayers are not answered? It is the spiritual leader’s responsibility to provide compassionate presence… whether it be from myself, or from the community. Again, there are no good answers as to why or how or when or what… It is so much easier to go into this as a leader, even slightly. How much more difficult it is to allow someone to be in their pain, their anger, and their blame! Walter Wangerin, in his beautiful book, Mourning into Dancing, says that we MUST let the griever blame God. Better God blamed than others because God is the only one that can so lovingly take on this blame. This is hard for the spiritual leader trying to give the “right” kind of help.

Unanswered prayer part 2 can be found here.

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Anger in suffering – from Walter Wangerin

From Mourning into Dancing

Everyone’s grief goes its own course, and if you feel no resentment at all, God bless you!

But if the anger does rise within you, name it, accept it, and send it to God!

Why? – because God is responsible for the tragic quality of human existence? Of course not. We are responsible.

Then why? Two reasons…

First, because we think God is responsible. Even when we fear to admit it, god is our final antagonist. God the Omnipotent, Sheer Infinitude, the Holy Other, by his mere being and by the contrast to ourselves, teaches us our tiny-ness. It is plain honesty, then, that carries the anger to God.

But second, because God can take it! God, who understands us better than we understand ourselves, will not be destroyed by our most passionate rages. In fact, he sees already the fury and its intended object before we confess either one. And it hurts the Lord when our anger hurts people.

Better, then, to give it to God.

It doesn’t matter that we are wrong to accuse him for our sorrows. God will not give tit for tat. Instead, he is glad for the chance to communicate. When we speak, we are also inclined to listen. When we confront the Lord we open up ourselves to divine response – and then the Lord can egage us in dialogue, and then he can heal us…

God will respond by loving you. He will acknowledge your anger. He will not call it just, but he will call you to himself and will himself empower the coming.

The opposition of emotion must fail in the end. We cannot but suffer the finitude of all creatures. But if we experience the failure in the presence of the Creator, we will know who is God and who is not.