Prayer, a real presence – Protestant Perspectives

Some parishioners come to worship to be nourished by a sermon. Others say they are more sensitive to the rhythm of the liturgy or to the presence of the community. Because prayer, both liturgical and personal, seems to bring them into another dimension, even another state.

All being is summoned

Praying can indeed concern all dimensions of the human being, like kneeling or the joining of hands practiced in certain traditions, or the psalms mentioning tambourines and trumpets. But in Protestantism it is often appealed primarily to the intellect on the pretext that a prayer is above all the formulation of a request or of thanks; but this is only the tip of the spiritual iceberg. If you try to recite the Our Father twenty times while closing your eyes, you will quickly realize that the mind detaches itself from the words to introduce another more open dimension, where colors and sensations take on of importance. Scrutinize an icon for a moment and the gaze is as if caught by a door that leads to an elsewhere. An in-depth conversation with a friend also gives this impression of living in another world when time seems to freeze in a moment of eternity.

Listen to God pray to us

These simple observations reflect the infinite complexity and richness of the spiritual world in which human beings navigate without even realizing it. The relationship with the invisible world, which can be called the bond of prayer, thus summons all the senses and affects intelligence as well as the psychic, physical and relational dimensions of the person. But this link can also be considered as a back-and-forth movement, from human to God as well as from God to human. Prayer is then a double flow which brings the concern of the world to God and the presence of God to the world.

If it’s right and good

The impact of prayer on the individual is therefore surprisingly real, even though it sometimes seems difficult to identify in everyday life. On a purely psychic level, for example, taking a step back and formulating a need is enough to automatically appease a person outside of any spirituality. But the reality of prayer is of another order since it is a link, a back and forth relationship. Praying tends first of all to unify the human being insofar as all his dimensions are affected and in relation to a god who defines himself as One. And prayer ignores constructed wills, militancy or egos when it is listening to God. As such, the meditation of biblical passages can completely nourish prayer and lead human beings to decenter themselves from their certainties and ready-made beliefs. This work of openness and humility is especially noticeable when a community is present, for example on the occasion of a Bible study or a service. It also has an undeniable impact on reality, as it induces a change in outlook and attitude towards oneself and others. This self-transformation caused the disciples of Pierre Valdo, Waldensian ancestors of the Reformation, to say this sentence which gives prayer full meaning: “Father, if this is just and good, hear my prayer and may it change me. »

Prayer, a real presence – Protestant Perspectives