Teaching about Prayer

Student question: “Why do people think there has to be a place to pray?”

Many Christians hold multiple ideas about distance and prayer simultaneously:

Claim A: You can pray anywhere, (and perhaps should inasmuch as you should pray without ceasing).

Claim B: Some places are better for prayer than others.

There are at least two reasons people give for B:

(1) Some places make it easier for human beings to be good recipients of divine communication/power.

(2) Some places facilitate a more pious or attentive attitude of prayer in the person praying.

Some of these tensions may be explained by thinking about how even though God can act at any place or simultaneously in many places (because there is no distance between a God who has no specific location of physical presence and any other place—you can’t measure from God to anywhere)… we as human beings who are one part of the communication act that is prayer ARE in a particular place and ARE limited and our experiences are shaped by the locations we inhabit. God’s infinite and place-unbounded or place-exceeding character does not overcome or cancel out human finitude and place-located embodiment.

I think some of these tensions can be explained by thinking about how even though God can act at any place or simultaneously in many places (because there is no distance between a God who has no specific location of physical presence and any other place—you can’t measure from God to anywhere)… we as human beings who are one part of the communication act that is prayer ARE in a particular place and ARE limited and our experiences are shaped by the locations we inhabit.