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Those who pray do so not merely because they believe certain intellectual presuppositions about prayer’s value, but because the struggle to be human in the face of suprahuman Powers requires it…

If we have not undergone that inner liberation in which the individual strands of the nets in which we are caught are severed, one by one, our activism may merely reflect one or another counterideology of some counter-Power. We may simply be caught up in a new collective passion, and fail to discover the possibilities that God is pressing for here and now. Unprotected by prayer, our social activism runs the danger of becoming self-justifying good works. As our inner resources atrophy, the wells of love run dry, and we are slowly changed into the likeness of the beast.

Prayer may or may not involve regular regimens, may or may not be sacramental, may or may not be contemplative, may or may not take traditional religious forms. It is in any case not a religious practice externally imposed but an existential struggle against the “impossible,” against an antihuman collective atmosphere, against images of worth and value that stunt and wither full human life.

Prayer is the field hospital in which the spiritual diseases that we have contracted from the Powers can be diagnosed and treated.

Intercessory prayer is spiritual defiance of what is in the name of what God has promised. Intercession visualizes an alternative future to the one apparently fated by the momentum of current forces. Prayer infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present… It creates an island of relative freedom in a world gripped by an unholy necessity.

Walter Wink, The Powers that Be, pp 182-186
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