I've been reading a bit of Catholic theologian Herbert McCabe's writings lately. His style is always very engaging, sometimes humorous, and once in awhile profound. I've also been thinking a bit about prayer lately, mostly by flipping through von Balthasar's Prayer (sidebar: does anybody know any non-Catholic books on prayer that I would like? Bonus points if the book is Barthian, Anabaptist or Wesleyan). The following quotes are from McCabe's short essay on prayer in God Matters.
All prayer is going to have to take its meaning and point from the sacrifice of Christ; we shall simply have to scrap all the metaphors about the allpowerful kindly father up there whom we can sometimes get through to and draw his attention to what we happen to need; we shall really have to get back to the traditional view that all providence is in Christ, that predestination is the predestination of Christ - that no one comes to the Father except through Christ. (217)
The crucifixion says that the coming of the kingdom is not to be an achievement of Jesus but a gratuitous act of the Father's love. The kingdom is to come as a gift... Gift is an expression of an exchange of love. To believe in the resurrection, to believe in God, is to believe that the resolution of the tragedy of the human condition comes as gift, as an act of love encompassing mankind. The crucifixion/resurrection is the archetypal exchange of prayer and answer to prayer. (219, emphasis mine)
God is not first of all our creator or any kind of maker, he is love, and his life is not like the life of the worker or artist but of lovers wasting time with each other uselessly. It is into this worthless activity that we enter in prayer. This, in the end, is what makes sense of it. (225)