Once again, trying to find the words to describe a prayer experience.
When my prayer transitions from personal worries to international concerns, the shift in focus brings a change in attitude. While praying for myself, I perceive the stress that I am carrying as I strain against human limitations. That sense of anxiety usually drops away when I ask God to help individual nations with the issues they face.
I really like that feeling as anxiousness dissipates! It puts me in a much better mood, which in turn motivates me to maintain my daily ACTS prayer practice. It’s the same mood that comes over me when I reach the “May all of your Creation experience your wholeness” point in my waking-up prayer.
I’m looking for a term for this better mood. I like Adam Smith’s use of “fellow-feeling” for sympathy; however it’s not quite the right fit as I don’t suffer with others when the mood takes hold. Terms such as compassion and empathy also have this connotation of shared suffering, which does not describe my frame of mind while praying. Taking on the suffering of others is a Christ-like action, one which I can not claim to experience on a regular basis when I pray.
The feeling I’m trying to name has something to do with scale. The prayer has reached its apex when it goes global. Anne Lamott-ish beggy prayers for myself do have a place in my prayer life. Though if my pray ends there, I won’t enter into that peaceful, calm, expansive, opened-up place of communion that improves my disposition.
What if I called the mood Agape? A love that is all-embracing and inexhaustible.