Posted by Mark Beckwith on December 16, 2010
When I was a priest in Massachusetts, Archibshop Tutu came to preach on the occasion of his granddaughter's baptism. Bishop Tutu began his sermon by thanking us -- for praying for the end of apartheid. Your prayers, he said, helped to end apartheid. He cited the case of a nun who lived as a hermit in the mountains of California. She wrote Bishop Tutu to tell him that she got up every morning at 3 am to pray -- for an hour, for an end to apartheid. "They didn't stand a chance," Bishop Tutu said -- "They didn't stand a chance against a nun praying at 3 am -- in the mountains of California." The "they" he was referring to were the principalities and powers, whose main purpose -- if not sole purpose, is to preserve the status quo. And to protect their hegemony, at whatever cost. Prayer is power. Different from the power of the principalities and powers, but power nonetheless. Paul knew this. "I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). The power of prayer can take on the principalities and powers -- and, at least in the case of apartheid -- according to the profound witness of Desmond Tutu, can help to dismantle them. May it be so.