The Power of Prayers, and Illusion and Reality

Our library selections for this month include a chapter by Imam al-Ghazali on “Prayers for Every Emergent Occasion”, including the original Arabic text of the prayers and a famous passage on the causality of prayer.

Should you ask: What is the benefit of supplication [du‘a], while Preordination [qada’] is irrevocable?—then you should know that the revocation of an affliction by supplication is itself a part of Preordination. Supplication is a cause for the revocation of the affliction and the procurement of mercy, just as a shield is a cause for the deflection of an arrow and water is a cause for the growth of a plant on the ground… The acknowledgement of Divine Preordination does not require that one should carry no weapons… nor that the earth should not be watered.
desert prayer

• From a Christian perspective, an article by David Arias reviews Aquinas’ arguments for the efficacy of prayer, giving the metaphysical reasoning and answer for the question “Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?”

Some failed to see how human freedom and the efficacy of prayer could co-exist with the immutability of God’s providence, [but] twentieth century philosophers are hardly novel as regards their position on this matter. In fact, they’re doing nothing more than recycling an ancient error, which St. Thomas definitely refutes… How precisely does St. Thomas reconcile the nature of efficacious prayer with the immutability of divine providence?

• Finally, we present “Illusion and Reality” a chapter from David Bentley Hart’s book The Experience of God, a book that “has made many atheists lose their faith.”

If God is the unity of infinite being and infinite consciousness, and the reason for the reciprocal transparency of finite being and finite consciousness each to the other, and the ground of all existence and all knowledge, then the journey toward him must also ultimately be a journey toward the deepest source of the self: “there is nowhere to find him, but where he resides in you.”

* Only a few places left for this year’s Sacred Gardens weekend course at the Chalice Well Gardens, Glastonbury, on 16 and 17 June. Click here for more details and to book.

* Our readers may also be interested in the online edX course “Oriental Beliefs: Between Reason and Traditions”, produced by the Department of Greek, Latin and Oriental Studies at the Université catholique de Louvain.