December 30, 2005

Prayers of Petition

Praying for a non-Christian’s conversion to Christianity is a no-brainer. But praying for a fellow Christian’s deeper conversion seems like dirty pool. A Christian's initial conversion is typically joy and sweetness but further conversions seem to require suffering to a greater or lesser degree. I recall a priest once saying that if you pray for patience God will answer by giving you more opportunities to practice it -- not exactly what we might've had in mind. In other words, He's not going to magically implant virtue without any effort on our part. So by praying for someone’s deeper conversion it seems we are praying that they suffer. It’s good for them, of course, but since I tend to shy from praying for my own suffering it hardly seems fair to pray that others suffer.

Now in the case that prompted this post, the friend who hates her husband, I'm not praying for her suffering but a true release from suffering because to forgive is a weight lifted. In that situation, holding a grudge is the suffering. So I feel no guilt in asking for prayers for her.

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