Tuesday, August 17, 2004

the power of prayer...

I often have moments when I feel alienated from God. Sometimes this is due to apathy, doubt, sin or just becoming too preocuppied with trivial things. At this stage it is all too easy for me to step further away. I take my hand from the plough and look back, finding myself, like Lot's wife, hardened into a listless pillar. Fortunately, Jesus reveals to us a God who is happy to receive his wayward children time after time. The only requirement? That we return to God asking for re-acceptance and forgiveness just as the prodigal son asked his father for forgiveness. We do this, of course, through prayer.

I regularly marvel at the power of prayer, but I can forget this amazing gift with just as much frequency. Today, I had decided to remove myself from a temporary pillar state and sat down to pray for the first time in a few days. I believe my prayer found acceptance. At once, my alienation from God was lifted. Not by a superficial feeling or 'buzz', but simply by remembering that God is both infinitely forgiving and infinitely able to renew our spirits. All by a short crude prayer.

We often forget the incredible concept of prayer. Jesus taught us that with a few simple words we can connect with the very Source of Creation, the One Divine Truth that is God. Of course, our connection does not end when we stop praying, indeed our lives should be prayer. For if prayer is so helpful, so rejuvenating, so full of strength, then St Paul is correct when he advises the Thessalonians to 'pray continually'. But what does it mean to 'pray continually'? One man took it literally, he actually said a spoken prayer over and over again all day. Monks and nuns have seen their entire existence as a big prayer, perhaps following St Paul's advice again. Christian meditators (see below) have found that after a time, their mantra begins repeating itself silently even outside of the meditation period: a continual prayer. Leave your comments on how you try to 'pray continually'.

Although we are often disappointed by unanswered prayer, I find that when we stop asking God for things, and just let ourselves receive what he is prepared to give us, the power of prayer never fails to give me strength.

"Prayer does not change God, but changes him who prays." - Søren Kierkegaard

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