posted February 2014
Subversive: “to undermine the authority of a system or an institution" (New Oxford Dictionary). I personally prefer the Old French and Latin root, sub-vertere: “(sub) from below” in order “to (vertere) turn” life downside-up and outside-in.
Sub-vertere Prayer: To alter a pattern of prayer that often becomes starved for fresh Wind and passionate Fire. Subversive Prayer: Praying from “under" life’s belly. “Turning” our life to the outside and bringing it inside.
Most every morning, near that curious edge when darkness is fractured by the primitive light of a new day, I make my way to my“hand of God" chair.
That phrase belongs to the Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes, former Senior Minister of The Riverside Church, NYC. When I used to lead Divinity School students on urban ministry pilgrimages in NYC, one of our regular pilgrimages was with Dr. Forbes and Riverside Church’s compelling Wednesday evening “Space for Grace". Forbes never failed to warn us (beginning with me) of the necessity, particularly for a pastor, to use a “hand of God" chair. Within that chair, the practice of persistent prayer reminds us that we can only live and do ministry within the clasping hands of God.
My chosen chair is under a lamp, next to an antique chest, in our dining room-library. It is a straight back, wooden dining table chair. Hot coffee fills the mug in my hand. Close by is a Bible, a prayer list with world news, and Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, my preferred title for Claiborne, Wilson-Hargrove and Okoro’s excellent and subversive guide for daily prayer.