"There is an example of the prayer of fear. Praying is not an imaging ladder enabling us to escape from our fear."
(The Courage to Pray, Metz, 1981)
Yes, many people think prayer is intended to comfort them. Yet, Metz would like to challenge
this idea of prayer. He does so by reminding us of the prayer of the suffering Christ in the Garden
of Gethsemane. We should not be afraid to bring fear into our prayer. The crucial point of prayer
is not to protect us from pain and suffering, but to place ourselves before God. In placing
ourselves before God we need to bring our entire selves and this includes our fears and terrors.
Many people wish to avoid pain and suffering because they do not want accept its reality. In
reading Metz, I am reminded that many times religion needs to involve terror and risk. As
Michael Novak wrote in The Experience of Nothingness, "Religion is a conversion from the
ordinary, given secure world into a world of nothingness, terror, and risk."
Prepared by Tan Pham, S.J.
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