Ethan Richardson spots the passage below from Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic, which grapples with the Christian belief that though “all is not well with the world…at least God is here in it, with us.” How Spufford connects that to prayer:
When I pray, I am not praying to a philosophically complicated absentee creator. When I manage to pay attention to the continual love song, I am not trying to envisage the impossible-to-imagine domain beyond the universe. I do not picture kings, thrones, crystal pavements, or any of the possible cosmological updatings of these things. I look across, not up; I look into the world, not out or away. When I pray I see a face, a human face among other human faces. It is a face in an angry crowd, a crowd engorged by the confidence that it is doing the right thing, that it is being virtuous. The man in the middle of the crowd does not look virtuous. He looks tired and frightened and battered by the passions around him. But he is the crowd’s focus and centre. The centre of everything, in fact, because if you are a Christian you do not believe that the characteristic action of the God of everything is to mould the course of the universe powerfully from afar. For a Christian, the most essential thing God does in time, in all of human history, is to be that man in the crowd; a man under arrest, and on his way to our common catastrophe.