Speaking in Ohio, prior to yesterday's "Super Tuesday II" Obama confronted the claims that he is a Muslim, trying to state clearly that he is a Christian not a Muslim. In addition to saying "I’m a Christian and try to go to church as much as I can," he also tried to make a point by saying, “I pray to Jesus every night.”
Obviously, saying he prays to Jesus was intentional, trying to eliminate the broad definitions of "God" (God the Father in Christianity, Allah, the god of laundry detergent and daisies?). Yet saying, "I pray to Jesus" simply carries some funny connotations in my head.
In fact, it makes me think of the discussion in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby explains why he like to pray to Christmas Jesus, but opens up the idea that there are different Christian options of "who" to pray to (baby Jesus, teenage Jesus, Jesus on the cross, etc.).
I've linked to the clip below.
I shared this clip recently with my small group as we discussed prayer last week. Biblically, it's not really Jesus who we pray TO, instead it's Jesus that we pray WITH.
Biblically, post resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Jesus both intercede for us and are involved in the prayer experience with us. ["the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26) and "Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)]
I don't write this as a criticism to Barack Obama (or Ricky Bobby for that matter), but I think it's interesting and powerful to think of prayer in terms of the trinity and as something we do with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not just as something we do independently, throwing prayers up at the ceiling as an act of Christian ritual.
I love the quote by Edwin Hui, (professor of bio-ethics and Chinese culture at Regent University) in the book Living the Story saying:
In the praying event, the praying person has an unmistakably three-facets "experience" of the Triune God as she is being incorporated by the "Spirit" into the life of the "Son" towards the "Father." It is an experience of being caught in the Tritarian life of God...of being invited in the conversation of God to God in and through the one who prays. In such a literally Godly prayer, and indeed in a truly Godly life of prayer, what else can a human person say other than "Amen."