Something I was reading recently, which I can pretty much visualise the pages around it, but fail absolutely to exactly identify, talked about recognising your own prayer burden. It struck a chord when I found this in the political theology reading this week:
What really matters is whether another person’s experience of pain or distress evokes as strong a response as if it has happened to oneself.
(p.27 of The Ethics of Human Rights by Esther Reed)
One of the things I’ve noticed on my journey to here, is how often things reduce me to tears. Not all or any things, but things that connect deep into my subconscious of injustice and poverty (of all kinds). I know my two main prayer burdens, one of which I always thought I would maybe end up working in, but suspect that my curacy will not be over-fraught by this issue, a new realisation which leads me to be neither grateful nor sad, simply aware that this is my *prayer* burden, not my action burden; the other in which I have already been and for which I will continue to be an outspoken advocate.
Reading Evelyn Underhill’s exhortation to Bishops that we don’t pray enough in Sarah Coakley’s introduction to Praying For England underlines a dual role and necessity for both prayer and action. In being moved to tears on reading some stories again, I’m reminded that sometimes action is and will be called for, and sometimes, it is prayer that is or will be more important. Each time someone’s “experience of pain or distress” moves me to tears, those tears stand as a prayer, as well as the prayer they remind me to pray.
Then again, we need both: come and join us!