“Mercy upon us, we who have learned to preach but not to pray.”
—Charles Wright, The Monastery at Vršac
Pronouncements come easy for some of us. Blinded by sight, we do not hesitate to turn the acetylene torch of our certitudes upon the ignorant and rebellious. We can speak eloquent fire, articulating to the nth degree the bitmap of their disobedience and depravity. This is not bluster; we’ve got hard evidence—sifted, categorized, and sealed in ziplock bags.
But being right—really right—isn’t all that satisfying these days. Call it the Ann Coulter funk or Rush Limbaugh-go; it’s the heartbreak of empty virtue, the tyranny of the facts of the matter, the I told you so syndrome ad nauseum. Riding a one trick pony gets old. You see, it’s one thing to describe a valley of dry bones, another entirely to make those bones live. Teaching those bones to dance—now that would be one bad ass performance.
Proclaiming the world’s bankruptcy is a petty act of sticks and stones. It may make the petty judges feel better, but that’s pretty much it. I’m coming to realize that the real game is prayer, that laughably quaint pastime of old ladies, dead saints, and dour-faced divines. The problem is that for most of us prayer is mostly theory, a parenthetical aside. And that is why even the most oracular among us are pretty much irrelevant. We know how to preach, but so what? It’s like having a light bulb without electricity.
In the West we Christians are into rational arguments. Now that we’ve lost the proverbial power of the Holy Ghost, we’re relegated to wise and persuasive words. Maybe instead of offering the world apologetics we should issue an apology.
Then we might want to learn to pray.
I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.