Prayer—building lives of compassion, lives that are full

In his book Conversations with God, James Melvin Washington presents a record of prayer that covers the past two hundred years in the experience of African Americans. Interviewed by The Washington Post after his book's publication last year, the author observed that in Western society today, those who live without prayer often turn out to be "some of the meanest, lowdown, lowlife folk I've ever known." He also pointed to the sense of hopelessness, the anger and emptiness, the lack of caring—the "compassion fatigue"—that tend to characterize prayerless lives.

The candor and bluntness in Mr. Washington's observations as reported in the Post don't create further dismay, however, because his words implicitly carry the possibility of resolution. Lives without prayer—empty lives—and hearts without compassion can become full and loving through prayer. If emptiness and meanness are produced by not praying, then abundant life and unselfish caring are produced by praying.

Agreement and disagreement in daily life
August 21, 1995

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