Archive for Prayer

Ephesians 3:14-19

3:14 For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 3:16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 3:19 and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(WEB)

A very nice prayer. I especially like 3:17, “being rooted and grounded in love.

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Extra-curricular reading

… the impulse to search for, and identify, the creator in a more explicit way is how conscious prayer begins to happen.

(Delia Smith, A Journey into God, p. 4)

Jesus be near me; watch with me.

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Acts 2:25-28

2:25 For David says concerning him,

‘I saw the Lord always before my face,
For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved.
2:26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced.
Moreover my flesh also will dwell in hope;
2:27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades,
neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay.
2:28 You made known to me the ways of life.
You will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

(WEB;OPB)

The quotation is from Psalm 16:8-11:

Psalm 16

A Poem by David.

16:1 Preserve me, God, for in you do I take refuge.
16:2 My soul, you have said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord.
Apart from you I have no good thing.”
16:3 As for the saints who are in the earth,
they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.
16:4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied who give gifts to another god.
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
nor take their names on my lips.
16:5 Yahweh assigned my portion and my cup.
You made my lot secure.
16:6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
16:7 I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel.
Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.
16:8 I have set Yahweh always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices.
My body shall also dwell in safety.
16:10 For you will not leave my soul in Sheol,
neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption.
16:11 You will show me the path of life.
In your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

(WEB; OPB)

A nice prayer. Is it legitimate to learn someone else’s prayer, and say it as your own?

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Mark 14:32-6, 15:34

14:32-6

14:32 They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” 14:33 He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be greatly troubled and distressed. 14:34 He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch.”

14:35 He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. 14:36 He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

15:33-4

15:33 When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 15:34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(World English Bible)

n.b.: 15:34 is quoting the opening of Psalm 22.

These two examples of Jesus praying are very different from the textbook example of “how to pray” given in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4).

Here Jesus seems to be showing very human feelings of weakness and despair, and opening himself up to God for strength and guidance.

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Mark 11:24-25

11:24 Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. 11:25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions.

(World English Bible)

This is the analogue (and maybe the source?) of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew and Luke. Like those prayers, it suggests you can ask God for things. I need to work out how someone can have the nerve to ask God for something. See also What is prayer?

If anything,the formulation here is stronger than those in Matthew and Luke: here you can ask for anything, “whatever you pray for”, not just your daily bread; but also, you are instructed to forgive, to actually forgive as part of your prayer. Just to assert that you do so (as in the prayers in Matthew and Luke) is not enough.

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What is prayer?

This post is possibly a bit premature, but it seems timely, and I don’t want to wait till I get to Matthew 6:9 (which at the rate I’m going, might be a while).

Many Christian prayers I’ve seen or heard seem to be asking God for things. Even the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4) asks God for things: give us our daily bread, deliver us from evil.

I can’t understand that. If God is infinitely powerful and wise then everything that happens is His will and is for the best. Asking Him for things is superfluous.

So something else must be going on.

It seems important to pray for the right things and to do it in the right way. And it seems that prayers that miss these criteria and not just poor examples of prayers — like a badly filled-in application form is still an application form — but that they are in a way not real prayers at all — submitting a shopping list instead of an application form.

Some prayers don’t ask for things. The Spem in alium prayer doesn’t ask:

Spem in alium numquam habui praeter in te Deus Israel qui irasceris et propitius eris et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis Domine Deus Creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

I have never put my hope in any other but in you, O God of Israel, who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man. Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, be mindful of our humiliation.

Oh, OK, it does, but respice humilitatem nostram is not really the point of the prayer I don’t think.

Maybe the important thing is searching for and arriving at the right things to pray for or about. The putting into words is part of that, and not a separate process of articulation or ornamentation. I was about to say it’s a way of thinking, but it feels better to say it’s a way of placing oneself.

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