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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prayer

Prayer means so many things, to so many people. What is prayer? Closely following that is a second question, just as important: How do I pray? In one sense, the answers are intensely simple. In another sense, the answers are as varied as the rich diversity of God’s creation that is manifested in humanity itself.
What is prayer?
Prayer is a relationship. It is the relationship between an individual and God, and it is the relationship between a group of individuals with one another as they seek a relationship, together, with God, in community. We know that God wants this relationship with us. When people asked him how to pray, Jesus didn’t dismiss the question. He gave them—and gave us—a model of prayer that evokes familiarity and respect, that acknowledges our dependence on God while it gives us an opportunity to express our joy in speaking candidly with the One we call Father. If prayer is a relationship, how do we actually do it?
Remember that prayer is an invitation from God to us—an invitation to spend time with him, to speak with honesty about our joys and our sorrows, our gratitude and our needs. Prayer is the activity that lets us reach out and touch God, and be touched in return.
The most important thing to remember is: To try to pray is to pray. Keep in mind that there are as many ways to pray as there are people. Each of us speaks with a unique voice, whether we use our vocal cords or a computer keyboard. Some might place themselves before God with a full heart, brimming over with expressions of love, of gratitude, of need. Others come before God with a heart full of sorrow that simply cannot be articulated. They place themselves in God’s presence, offering up the feelings that they cannot put into words.
For prayer is not necessarily about words, or even an abundance of words. Sometimes it is enough to say, “Help,” and at other times, to say, “Thank You.” To say, “O Lord, I love You. Help me love You more.” It is the attempt to pray that is the prayer. It is the desire for union with God, put into action, that is prayer.
There are as many styles of prayer as there are people who pray. Whether we meditate or contemplate, recite or extemporize, pray with friends or alone, in a church or on a street corner: the important thing is to accept God’s invitation. In whatever way we choose to accept that invitation—that is prayer. And it is powerful. These are some of my favorite quotes about prayer, and the power of prayer.


"Prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven, but getting God's will done on earth. It is not overcoming God's reluctance but laying hold of God's willingness."
Richard C. Trench

"Only those who see the invisible can attempt the impossible."
Dick Eastman

"More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."
Alfred Lord Tennyson

"God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it."
John Wesley

"Most men pray for power, the strength to do things. Few people pray for love, the quality to be someone."
Robert Foster

"Prayer requires more of the heart than the tongue."
Adam Clarke

"No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it."

"The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, buy unoffered prayer."
F.B. Meyer

"Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended upon man."
Francis J. Spellman

"The reason why we obtain no more in prayer is because we expect no more. God usually answers us according to our own hearts."
Richard Alleine

"Do not make prayer a monologue-make it a conversation."
Author unknown

"Effective prayer is prayer that attains what it seeks. It is prayer that moves God, effecting its end."
Charles Finney

"Seven days without prayer makes one weak."
Allen Vartlett

"Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure."
D. L. Moody

"Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."
Benjamin Franklin

"Our prayers must mean something to us if they are to mean anything to God."
Maltbie D. Babcock

"To pray in Jesus' name means to pray in his spirit, in his compassion, in his love, in his outrage, in his concern. In other words, it means to pray a prayer that Jesus himself might pray."
Kenneth L. Wilson