Thursday, March 27, 2008

Prayers Plainly Spoken - 1

Thanks to the kind folk at Wipf and Stock for a copy of Stanley Hauerwas' Prayers Plainly Spoken. 1999. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.

Now that my health has started to return, I will write a series of posts today on Hauerwas' little book. This is a curious selection of prayers, vibrantly and almost heretically honest (like many of the biblical Psalms), and often amusing. So Hauerwas writes that 'these prayers are not "holy"' (12)! He continues: 'If anything, these prayers are plain. They are so because I discovered I could not pray differently than I speak. In other words, I thought it would be a mistake to try to assume a different identity when I prayed. I figured (Texans 'figure') that God could take it, because God did not need to be protected. I think I learned this over the years by praying the Psalms in church. God does not want us to come to the altar different from how we live the rest of our lives. Therefore I do not try to be pious or use pious language in these prayers. I try to speak plainly, yet I hope with some eloquence, since nothing is more eloquent than simplicity' (13).

These prayers were originally prayed in Hauerwas' Duke divinity school classroom on a variety of occasions, and to quote some book blurb, they show how 'Christians can pray with all the passion, turbulence and life of the ancient psalmists'.

However, by 'plain' he certainly does not mean they are not thought through. '[I]t is my hope that these prayers reflect what I have learned about what it means to be a Christian'. He continues: 'Prayer is our most determinative speech. Any theology, therefore, that is finally not about helping us to pray cannot be Christian. In an odd way, then, this book represents the most important testing of my theological work' (15).

In the following few posts, today, I'll be offering some of Hauerwas' prayers, for discussion, enlightenment, encouragement, and most of all – to pray.



At 3/27/2008 3:19 PM, Anonymous Cb said...

Texans "figger." I know, I am proud to be a native Texan. I figger that gives me the raght to say that.

At 3/27/2008 10:40 PM, Anonymous nelson moore said...

That's hilarious. I was just logging on to point out that Texans "figger" and what do I find? Someone has beaten me to it.

By the way, Texans also "fix." As in, "I'm fixin' to write a book on prayer. I figger they should be plainly spoken."


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