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Praying, Fast and Slow

posted Nov 13, 2013, 7:47 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Nov 13, 2013, 7:47 AM by in apropos ]

Maybe you've read a recent best-seller, Thinking, Fast and Slow by the Nobel prizewinner Daniel Kahnemann.  Summing up a lifetime of research, he describes two kinds of thinking. Fast thinking is intuitive, automatic, often effortless.  When we apply familiar categories to new information, for example, we're thinking fast.  Slow thinking is what feels like thinking... deliberative, analytical, maybe a little bit “difficult”.

Lots of books about how people think have come out in the last few years, from Predictably Irrational to The Righteous Mind.  As Christians, we want to have a clear-eyed view of our real natures.  Becoming aware of all our little shortcuts, what the pros call cognitive biases, is part of accepting the truth about ourselves.

Can we say that some prayer is "fast" and some is "slow"?   Fast prayer would be from the heart, spontaneous and unscripted.  When we hear about the catastrophic situation in the Philippines, we almost automatically reach out as if for a railing.  Inwardly, we immediately ask for mercy for those who have gone and for those in crisis and need.   Even as you read this, let's stop and raise up again this inward request.  

But sometimes the practice of the presence of God is deliberate.  Thanks to baked goods that you all bought more than a year ago, our church school has hundreds of dollars to lend to those in need.  Just before joining us for Maya's baptism last Sunday, Jonathan Downs and the middle schoolers reinvested part of their Kiva micro-loans during Sunday School.  We reinvest each semester as previous loans mature. This time, the class decided to diversify a bit and made a new loan through Heifer International.  This is indeed slow prayer.

Thank you, Grace Church, for keeping our doors open every day for all kinds of prayer.  And thanks be to God always and everywhere, to whom we can turn at all times.

David Barbrow, Senior Warden