Saturday, December 01, 2007

Howard Thurman - praxis prayer

I am reading Howard Thurman's Meditations of the Heart for an Advent devotional. I read Jesus of the Disinherited in seminary and was really impacted by the book. Thurman (1899-1981) was the co-founder of the first inter-racially pastored, intercultural church in the US. He was a mentor and significant influence on the life and ministry of MLK Jr; and in my opinion he is dreadfully under-read by most Christians; for he is an amazingly insightful theologian, mystic and social critique who was way ahead of his time. I am continually struck by how similar African American/Black theology is to the theology emerging from emergent folks. Why is it then that more African Americans are not engaged in the emerging church conversation? For some great insight into this questions check Anthony Smith's blog, and his chapter, Practicing Pentecost in Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Anyway my main reason for writing is to share with you a section of Howard Thurman on prayer that is typical of African American theology. It is a model of what I will call, praxis prayer which is holistic, active and rooted in a Hebraic understanding of knowing - that if you know, you act and if you do not act then maybe you do not really know; knowledge cannot be separated from action. Thurman, reflectively outlines the natural movement of ones prayer to God which he says ends in the...

"...sharing of one's desires and hopes for others, and one's sense of need which the whole human family shares - the need for peace, for health, for justice and for must share with God in the whole task of redeeming human life. It is never quite sufficient to place all the needs of mankind before God and leave them there. The efficacy of prayer is often measured by the degree to which the individual is willing to become involved in actually working in the world to meet these needs. A man may share his prayer concern fore peace in the world and yet in his own little world, be unwilling to change his private attitude of antagonism or prejudice toward his fellows."

May we be willing to participate in the activity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the world - which may be the answer to our own prayers and the prayers of others!!!!

1 comment:

Nadir78 said...

I have also read Howard Thurman's works! I am deeply in awe of his message of "being engaged" in the religious transformation of self and the world for which I live in.

I love his following quote that "the contradictions of life are never final".

As for the African American Church on prayer/praxis prayer: I think African Americans are as far as a goodly number constantly prayer but will not share this with the public due to the belief of privacy...