All too often our prayer life is disconnected from the political, social, and economic issues of the day. This volume in Jossey-Bass's The Practices of Faith Series is by Claire E. Wolfteich, an associate professor of practical theology at Boston University and codirector of the Lily Endowment-funded Church and Theology in the Contemporary World Project, which is part of the Center for Practical Theology. She has aimed this work at Christians who want to integrate their nurturing spiritual life with their social justice witness.Prayer, Wolfteich states, is "the glue and the ground for the life of the Christian community" and as such it is naturally connected to the challenges and struggles of individuals and communities to live in peace and justice in a world of violence and inequities. The "pause" of prayer is a necessity for those working for social change who otherwise may run short of the energy and patience needed to bring about transformation in places where people are hurting. Wolfteich commends the desert fathers and mothers, practitioners of Ignatian spirituality, and Teresa of Avila for their Christian guidance on humility, discernment, and action. She has chosen six case studies and related them to prayer:
• how to keep praying through injustice
• how to authentically make our prayer a social witness
• how to discern the fine line between presumptuous and prophetic prayer
• how to relate contemplation and action
• how to pray as a community amid great diversity.
In a chapter on the tensions within a Florida congregation with a politically active minister, in a look at apartheid in South Africa, in a portrait of reconciliation in South Africa, in an overview of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement, in a piece on prolife activists and prayer, and a glimpse of the Taize vision, Wolfteich demonstrates how the struggle for social justice is a spiritual struggle in which prayer provides a moral compass to guide us through the storms and the deepest moments of fear. These models of ethical prowess and Christian discernment provide faith communities and individuals with many ways of praying for justice with conviction and humility.