Dear Friends,

To many people today, Christian prayer is old-fashioned, out-of-date, ineffective and immature. In the words of the old joke, “and those are its good points!”

For Christians, prayer is an honest conversation with God. As part of that conversation we ask Him to do some things. We cannot put Him in our debt, manipulate Him or coerce Him to do what we ask. We ask and wait to see in what way He answers.

To many in our world, this seems immature. It sounds like a child, asking her mommy to do something. This is fine for young children, talking with their parents; but surely adults should have a more adult way of relating to the Divine. This is why the so-called Eastern or pagan religions seem so much more mature and worthy of our attention. We learn to be active, to achieve what we desire, rather than “waiting” for some god to choose to pay attention to us and act.

So, we learn to do yoga, or meditate, or channel. We learn to cast spells and call down goddesses. We learn to center ourselves, work in harmony with divine powers without and within. We work to achieve what we want and be in harmony with powers. We are mature, self-actualized, empowered, living on our terms.

So, several things to consider concerning these more “mature” paths. First, these all seem wise when we are strong and prosperous and healthy. But what about those who are not these things? What about us when we inevitably become weak? And don’t the “self-actualized” ways end up hardening our hearts to the poor and the weak? After all, if life is about “taking control” and being “self-actualized”, then surely it is largely the weak’s fault that they stay weak.

Second, isn’t the “mature” way massively inconsistent? I mean that every person I have met on such a mature path also believes in the evolutionary theories taught in high school and in the media. But how can the world described by evolution also have divine powers and energies and goddesses? If everything is a result of blind, natural forces how can there be “seeing” and personal powers?

This points to a further massive inconsistency. How “powerful” can these powers and processes be if I can learn to control them? Doesn’t this mean I am more powerful? But what hope is that? I might, for a season, think I stride across the world like a god, but a microscopic virus can kill me – and I will inevitably die. Is it possible that these more “mature” ways of harnessing the divine are really more like children dressing up, pretending to have light sabres?

Only the Christian faith has a deep, mature and satisfying account of human origins and human life. Only the Gospel provides real hope in the face of weakness and death. If Jesus really did rise from death, then the God He introduces and reconciles us to is true and real. It is wisdom, not maturity, to be gripped by the Gospel and humbly speak to Him.