I am in the midst of re-reading one of my favorite books, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality, by Ronald Rolheiser.

I seek out Rolheiser's writing when my weariness about the American church and its unhappy romance with politics causes me to feel despair.

I ground myself in the deeper truths of faith and my spirit is buoyed and given both hope and direction.

For instance, Rolheiser writes that too often Christians pray as if the incarnation (God becoming flesh in Jesus) never happened. We pray and then sit back and wait for God to work.

To Rolheiser, this is the prayer of a theist - one who believes in God.

But we are to pray not as mere theists, but as Christians. Those who believe God became flesh in Christ, and that God continues to "become flesh" in and through the Church; the body of Christ on earth.

Therefore, Rolheiser says "To pray as a Christian demands concrete involvement in trying to bring about what is pleaded for in prayer."

He fleshes out what he means:

"Hence ... if my mother is sick and I pray that she gets better, but do not drive her to see the doctor, I have prayed as a theist, not as a Christian. I have not given any incarnational flesh, skin, to my prayer.

It is more difficult for God to answer such a prayer.

If I see a colleague or a friend who looks depressed and pray for her, but do not speak to her, then I am praying like a theist and not as a Christian. How is God supposed to console her? Send an email from heaven? It is my voice and my compassion that is called for since I am part of the Body of Christ, am praying, precisely, through the Body of Christ, and am there, available to talk to her.

If I pray for a close friend today but do not send him a postcard to tell him I am thinking about him, how is that prayer supposed to touch him?

If I pray for world peace, but do not, inside of myself, forgive those who have hurt me, how can God bring about peace on this planet?

Our prayer needs our flesh to back it up."

(Ronald Rolheiser)

Let's put some flesh behind our prayers today, ok?