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Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer with the Uncontrolling Love of God

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What if God is not in control of everything that happens in the world? If God is not in control, then is praying for others or devastating tragedies still a viable practice? Is petitionary prayer an archaic and superstitious practice better left for old-time religious folk? Can petitionary prayer cause more harm than good and ultimately make a loving God look morally and ridiculously bad? Is there a more effective method of praying that doesn’t put all the responsibility on God? In Divine Echoes, I tackle these dilemmas and much more.

Divine Echoes not only wrestles with complex questions surrounding the practice of petitionary prayer, it also reconstructs a model of prayer called Conspiring Prayer. Conspiring Prayer has the possibility of reinvigorating prayer for individuals and communities of faith. The potential of transformational growth is not only possible for those who engage in Conspiring Prayer but also for the world.

About Conspiring Prayer

The English word conspire comes from the Latin word conspirare, which literally means “to breathe together” and “to act in harmony toward a common end”. In today’s usage, the word conspire has a negative connotation, which is to plot with someone to do something wrong or evil. Conspiring prayer combines both of those meanings.

Conspiring prayer is performed with God rather than to God. Conspiring prayer is a form of prayer where we create space in our busy lives to align our hearts with God’s heart, where our spirit and God’s Spirit breathe harmoniously together, and where we plot together to subversively overcome evil with acts of love and goodness (Romans 12:21). This subversive sacred practice calls forth thankful, open-hearted listeners who humbly petition and partner with God to become divine echoes, committed to bring forth shalom in the world.

“Too often Christians fail to think theologically when they pray. That may seem odd because prayer is a profoundly theological activity. But Christians too often pray while simultaneously ignoring their theological questions, doubts, and past experiences. Mark Karris offers a compelling antidote: genuine theological reflection on what prayer is and why petitionary prayer doesn’t always yield the results we seek. His proposals may shock you, but good medicine can sometimes do that. I highly recommend Mark’s book!”

–Thomas Jay Oord, author of 20+ books, including The Uncontrolling Love of God

“Mark Karris begins this book with two heartbreaking stories of unanswered prayer from his own life. These stories set the stage for an honest and courageous rethinking of what it means to pray for others. He makes accessible some of the most important thinking going on in the theological community today about God’s relationship to creation and the purposes of prayer. He will take you to a place where your prayers can be more honest, where God’s love is completely trustworthy, and where you enter into a deep partnership with God.”

–Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

“What an important work of spiritual guidance Karris is offering. No more begging and instructing God to do this or that—and suffering the endless disappointments! Instead, Karris teaches with his vividly inviting prose and wise theology an honestly loving and effectual ‘conspiring prayer’ practice for the benefit of the church and the world.”

–Catherine Keller, George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology, Drew Theological School,

“The personal and vulnerable stories shared, the compelling theological understanding of prayer presented, and a new and persuasive paradigm of petitionary prayer proposed makes this provocative book an invaluable work that belongs in everyone’s library.”

–Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion

Trust in God

Everyone has heard the phrase “Trust in God!” It is a powerful phrase that is often times used in a way that supposes God is in control of all things.

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“People who intentionally set aside time to prayerfully listen and conspire with God, humbly opening themselves up to receive God’s wavelengths of love, and creatively and subversively reverberate them out to the world around them.”