Politicking and Prayer
© 29 September 2021 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
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One will from two


I enjoy office politics and spend some of my time each week politicking: that is, striving to make a people out of a group of persons, helping the persons in my workplace agree. This is an aspect of politics that is not often mentioned today, but is essential to it progressing pleasantly.

One part of this type of politicking is the following sequence of steps:

  1. Approach an individual and broach a subject with them.

  2. Listen carefully to their views.

  3. Mention a challenge or trade-off and clarify their method of solving it.

  4. Mention that others solve that challenge or trade-off differently and ask their reaction to that solution.

  5. Listen carefully to their views.

I used to put more steps in this process, but I’ve learned that the above are often all that is needed. When people are approached individually, listened to, and asked to think about other views without pathos, they converge in their views. It sometimes takes some effort to describe their agreement in a way they all see as desirable, but in my experience the agreement itself rarely takes campaigning or compromise: the process of listening is often enough.

I find this also describes some of my experience with prayer.

There is a type of prayer where I go to God with a view I wish to express. I vent my views and petition God’s engagement in my chosen way. Then, if I am not in a hurry and stay engaged, I start to feel listened to and heared. And that feeling is followed by a second thought: a niggling in my mind that there’s a trade-off to my desires and another way one might reasonably expect it to come out. If I’m humble enough to stay prayerful, I’ll share my thoughts about that second thought. This may go several rounds, but if I stick with it I’ll find my thoughts converging on a request that excites no second thoughts, on a request I can make in faith that it aligns with God’s will. And those requests have yet to fail to be heard and answered.

This is not the only kind of prayer, nor the only kind of efficacious prayer. But it is a kind of prayer I greatly value, and find echoes of in scripture when prayers are offered asking for what it is hard to imagine were the first thoughts of the one offering the prayer or when God tells one or another person that God is confident they will never ask amiss.

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