THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Grown-up praying is more than just spiritual Ovaltine

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IF the question to a child is “Who do you need to pray for?” and the answer is “Mummy, daddy, teddy and me” that’s all right: it shows it’s a caring and loving home. But we all grow up, so it might help to think about these things in a grown up way.

Jesus had a thing or two to say about praying. He plainly saw it differently from some kind of spiritual Ovaltine. It was bound up with love, and his kind of love had very little to do with emotion. It was more to do with clear headed, determined and tough determination to do the right thing. His question would probably have been “Who needs you to pray for them?” and then it all looks very different. Mother, father and ourselves almost certainly need us to pray for them still, but there is a whole world out there in desperate need of love and support and friendship. And Jesus went further: he told people to love their enemies and pray for those who make their life a misery, and I guess he would stretch that to include the very last people we want to bother with, the incompetent, the dangerous, the bully and so on. Instinct says despise them, beat them, dump them, forget them; Jesus says “Love them and pray for them.” This could change everything.

ROGER SEAL

Spalding Quaker Meeting