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Waiting, Listening and… 11 November 2014

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Faith, Life, Ponderings, Prayer, Theology.
Tags: , , , ,

Thinking, perhaps?

The sun has set and the evening draws in. This is the cue for the faithful Muslim students to head for the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy prayer and quiet rooms, and the cue for me to wait for a visitor, who I’m mentoring through her placement (one which is only tangentially related to University).

It is the time to overhear snippets of conversation, the who-is-doing-what-course sort of conversations that the Muslim students have, since although they are exhorted to pray together they don’t always talk together, no matter how odd that may seem to others. Here I hear such theologically interesting comments as “you should not run to salah” (that is, to prayer) followed by an explanation of the importance of prayer understood as special, different. No matter the fact that praying these prayers in congregation, sometimes referred to as jummah, is encouraged, you should still not run to join in…

I don’t set out to listen, but that doesn’t mean I do not overhear. I don’t know from whence the speaker draws his knowledge or claims, and yet, there is a question, a pattern of thought which bears pondering, irrespective of faith tradition. “You should not run to prayer…”

Of course from a Christian point of view there is the issue of prayer not being confined to given times and windows of opportunity, unlike within Islam. Salah, the formal prayers, if I remember rightly, are a gift of obligation, so to speak, rather than the more flexible pattern of personalised intercessory prayer we might think of as more common within the private practices of Christianity (and having an Islamic parallel of dua if I’ve got it right). An obvious response for many active, faithful Christians would be to ask why we would run to prayer, when we can pray on the run. Of course, that isn’t what is meant, and if we stopped to think about it most of us would prefer to pray or worship in a given place or context. The rather ‘higher’ traditions of Western Christianity might prefer to think about whether it was right to run to Mass, to Eucharist, the gift of Christ in bread and wine, so revered and treasured by many. Or to Bible Study for the more Evangelical or Reformed of mind.

You should not run to the holy… I could go a long way discussing that.

(This was mainly written a few days ago. It is not complete. It is not an answer. It is merely an invitation to ponder. I trust you will do just that, even if, like me, you come to no clear conclusion. After all, for all our delight in absolutes, we usually find a ‘but’…)



1. faithhopechocolate - 18 November 2014

My initial thoughts are that running implies an unpreparedness, a lack of preparation and a lack of awareness of the structure of the day. Prayer is important, therefore we should prepare for it properly.

Not that that’s ever stopped me from legging it down the cloister when something’s detained me on occasion.

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