Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Prayer Mediates All Sorts of Influence

I had a hard time understanding how prayer might work until I flipped the figure and ground: it’s not that prayer is mediated by run of the mill physical transactions, but vice versa.

Each entity has its causal influence upon its successors in virtue of its own urgency toward some final state of affairs, that is beyond its own powers alone to procure in itself. For, every actual event is effectually a proposal for the appropriation and adoption of its character by its subsequents as at least an element in their own. When an event behaves in way x, it effectually proposes that x is an appropriate way to behave for occasions of its own general sort in its approximate circumstances.

So, the transfer of energy between two particles can be understood as a prayer by the transferor for that transfer to occur, which is answered in the affirmative by a transferee.

Prayer then is not extraphysical. Rather, the physical is intraprecarial. We have difficulty accounting for prayer in merely physical terms because we are undertaking the project the wrong way: prayer cannot be accounted for in the economy of physics; but physics can be accounted for in the economy of prayer, as a sort thereof.

The metaphysical prolegomenae to this notion are fleshed out in How I Got Religion.

4 thoughts on “Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Prayer Mediates All Sorts of Influence

  1. Pingback: Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Prayer Mediates All Sorts of Influence | Reaction Times

  2. Perhaps I’m missing the context from the earlier essay, but this doesn’t quite seem to agree with the phenomenology of prayer, which has as its chief aim communion with God, including the entrusting of intentions to His will, rather than our own. What you seem to be proposing here is more akin to the idea of “manifesting”, or a more generalised version of intentionality.

    • It’s not for nothing that Christians speak of their intentions in prayer as a matter of course.

      There are prayers for good and prayers for ill. The former take the general form, “I ask of thee; yet, not my will, but God’s be done.” The latter take the general form, “My will be done.”

      When we say “please” to each other, we are praying to each other, formally. “Prithee” was once a common equivalent substitute. When we ask anything, we are praying for some desired result. “Is it raining?” That’s a prayer for information; for a future state of affairs in which you will have been told whether it is raining.

      The Gospels are the good spells – the God prayers – that communicate to us from God through his Church by his Holy Apostles his intention for us, that we should be saved from the Enemy, and join him in the heavens.

      So, yes, prayer is always intentional – albeit not always consciously intentional, or aware of its true intentions. It is also always intensional: it is about some state of affairs other than itself.

      To be x is effectually to assert that x is a good way to be in the present circumstances. It is then a proposal and lure proffered to other new occasions of becoming, that they might do well to constitute themselves in congruity and agreement with x, and perhaps adopt much of x in their own final character. Being is a sort of prayer.

      Contemplative prayer may be distinguished from other sorts by the object of its intension, which is simply God. The contemplative prayer asks for nothing other than God. Most prayers even of the Church are not contemplative. They intend the reconciliation of the soul to God, *so that* contemplative prayer will then be on the table.

  3. Pingback: On Worship – The Orthosphere

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