Pray the News: A Spiritual Exercise

prayerA few weeks ago, during our meeting for worship we experienced a spiritual exercise that helped us “pray the news.” Here is the exercise for those wanted to add this to their devotional practices as we try and understand and process all that is going on in our world.

Adapted from the Theology of Work Project
On the blog: “The High Calling”

PREP: Provide at least one Sunday Newspaper for each table (12) – (remove adds so less distraction).

As current events serve to polarize people further and further from one another, let’s consider how we, as people of faith might respond. What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?

Everything that happens in the world is an opportunity for us to move in love towards God and others. As Richard Rohr said: “If love is your actual and constant goal, you can never really fail.”

In response to injustice or tragedy in the news, some of us jump right into the thick of heated verbal battles. Others retreat to safer, quieter ground. Many wish to offer help, and long to be involved in making this world more reflective of the heart of Jesus. We are full of compassion and empathy when faced with suffering and inequity, but we feel overwhelmed and inadequate.

As people of faith, we may believe our options are limited: Polarize ourselves from each other by taking hard stances, or avoid the ugliness by insulating ourselves in personal safety. By taking hard stances we divide ourselves from others, instead of drawing each other into a Kingdom of love and grace. Conversely, by insulating ourselves, we risk surrender to apathy.

What if there is another way? What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?

Today we are going to experience a prayer exercise we call…

Praying the News

To begin, at your table, take some time to pass sections of the newspaper we have provided around to each person. Allow your section of the newspaper to sit on the table before you as you quiet your heart. Rest in your identity as God’s Beloved. After taking time to quiet yourself, follow these prompts for praying the news:

Choose one and read through a news story from your section of the paper. Then offer your initial reaction to God. What do you carry as you come into this time? Surrender that reaction to him and ask for a heart that reflects his. Take a few more minutes of quiet.

Who in the story do you feel yourself drawn towards? Who do you feel a resistance toward? Has your mind created a dichotomy between “us” and “them” or a “good vs. bad” mentality? Ask God for the humility to see that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Do you see anything rising up in you that is not of the spirit (i.e. hate, stressful striving, fear, impatience, arrogance, pride, ugliness, apathy, or impulsiveness with words or actions)?

Keep in mind that sorrow over the brokenness in the world mirrors God’s heart. Anger at injustice or brokenness can be the exact thing that moves us towards action, (unless it turns to self-righteousness and condemnation of others).

In what way can you move toward the kingdom in your own life with regard to the story you’ve just read or witnessed? How can you move in love towards your enemy? How can you seek to understand another’s perspective? What is your prayer towards this situation? How can you move that prayer into your hands and feet and life?

If you feel an anxious energy to act immediately, sit with this longer. Be sure you are being motivated by love. Your anxiousness may be an indicator of something other than love (i.e. self-protection, ego, etc.).

May we, Beloved children of God, move through each day, deeply rooted in the knowledge that “we live in God, we move in God; we exist in God” (Acts 17:28). From that place, may the wake of our lives be healing, mercy, and a fearless love.

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