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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living On a Prayer

The Meaning of Prayer
Poet: Frances McKinnon Morton

A breath of prayer in the morning
Means a day of blessing sure;
A breath of prayer in the evening
Means a night of rest secure;

A breath of prayer in our weakness
Means the clasp of a mighty hand;
A breath of prayer when we're lonely
Means someone to understand;

A breath of prayer in our sorrows
Means comfort and peace and rest;
A breath of prayer in our doubtings
Assures us the Lord knows best;

A breath of prayer in rejoicing
Gives joy and added delight,
For they that remember god's goodness
Go singing far into the night.

There's never a year nor a season
That prayer may not bless every hour,
And never a soul need be helpless
When linked with God's infinite power.

What is prayer? The English word prayer derives from the Old French preier (meaning: "to request"). From classical times, it was used in both religious and secular senses: precor include "to wish well or ill to any one," "to hail, salute," or "address one with a wish." The Latin orare "to speak" later took over the role of precari to mean "pray." No matter the exact etymology, prayer is understood as the foundation of Christian communication with God.

Prayer is an act of the virtue of religion which consists in asking proper gifts or graces from God. In a more general sense, it is the application of the mind to Divine things, not merely to acquire a knowledge of them but to make use of such knowledge as a means of union with God. This may be done by acts of praise and thanksgiving, but petition is the principal act of prayer.

Words used to express prayer in Scripture include the following:

* to call up (Genesis 4:26)
* to intercede (Job 22:10)
* to mediate (Isaiah 53:10)

* to consult (1 Samuel 28:6)
* to beseech (Exodus 32:11)

Prayer allows us to acknowledge God's power and goodness, and our own neediness and dependence. It is therefore an act of the virtue of religion implying the deepest reverence for God and habituating us to look to Him for everything, not merely because the thing asked be good in itself, or advantageous to us, but chiefly because we wish it as a gift of God, and not otherwise, no matter how good or desirable it may seem to us.

Prayer presupposes faith in God and hope in His goodness. By both, God, to whom we pray, moves us to prayer. Our knowledge of God by the light of natural reason also inspires us to look to Him for help, but such prayer lacks supernatural inspiration, and though it may avail to keep us from losing our natural knowledge of God and trust in Him, or, to some extent, from offending Him, it cannot positively dispose us to receive His graces. 

Like every act that makes for salvation, grace is required not only to dispose us to pray, but also to aid us in determining what to pray for.

Put simply, prayer is “communion with God”. Through prayer we actually experience a relationship with God. The quality of our prayer life determines the quality of our relationship with God.

In essence, prayer can be viewed as many things:

1. Prayer is talking with God. 

2. Prayer is listening to God. 

3. Prayer is enjoying the presence of God. 

Prayer can take many forms – for example: worship, confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition (asking for things), waiting (silent, listening and sensing of God) and warfare (command). In fact, when we are baptized in the Spirit, we can pray with the spirit in languages unknown to us but not to God. (1 Corinthians 14:2,14). Tongues may be meaningless to our understanding, but they are not to God.

God is looking for heartfelt relationship. Jesus said not to make meaningless repetitions of words when we pray. (Mathew 6:7). Prayer may be better realized by understanding what it is not:

1. Prayer is not simply saying words. 

3. Prayer is not repeating formulas. 


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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