Next weekend I'm giving a couple talks. In preparation, I've been weaving together new thoughts and notes and old thoughts and notes. One of the sets of notes that I've pulled from the archives are notes I took when I heard Sir Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne speak a number of years ago at a local university. Polkinghorne is from England and is a physicist turned Anglican priest. You can read more about him and peruse his extensive bibliography at this website. His topic was "Can Scientists Pray?" Many times in the years since this lecture, his ideas about prayer have come back to me.
Polkinghorne compared prayer to a laser. Laser light is powerful because it is coherent. The troughs and peaks of its waves line up and are, therefore, added together for maximum intensity. In the same way, prayer is a vehicle by which our will is added to God’s will and the will of others of the same mind and prayer for maximum effect. All together, we are offering our power of agency to God for the accomplishment of his will. This is not an abstract semantic excercise, but rather a contribution of actual energy and power. The alignment of our will with God’s matters, not simply as a measure of our love or devotion to him, but as an aide to him to get his work in the world accomplished. Being neither an educated theologian or physicist, my summary is not a complete capture of the thoughts he conveyed. Nonetheless, to think of prayer in this way is very exciting.