Contemplative Corner -“The Spiritual Discipline of Prayer”

In prayer we enter into an abiding, intimate relationship with God. The practice of prayer guides us to “Draw near to God and God will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The deepest and highest work of the human spirit occurs during real, life changing, life creating prayer. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us into the image of Christ.

It is in real, intimate prayer that we begin to think God’s thoughts, desire the things God desires, love the things God loves and begin to will the things God wills. Through prayer we seek the mind of Christ and ask God to help us to discern the will of God. To have the mind of Christ is to live loving, selfless, servant-centered, humble and obedient lives. Progressively we are taught to see things from God’s point of view.

The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). We learn to pray over time by reading prayers in scripture and prayer books, listening to others pray, praying for others and simply practicing being in the presence of God. There are many types of prayer that have nurtured Christians throughout the centuries such as prayers for guidance, wisdom, healing, forgiveness, surrender and more.

For example, intercessory prayer is praying for others. One of the most critical aspects of such prayer is getting into the presence of God so that God’s life and power can flow through us to others. Prayer is spiritual work. It is not just talking; it’s also listening for the voice of God. We must learn to hear, know, and obey the will of God before we can successfully pray for the lives of others. That is why it is important to begin by sitting quietly and asking for the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Do not be afraid that you do not have enough faith to pray for others. The courage to pray for someone is a sign of sufficient faith and assurance comes with the inner sense of compassion and concern for someone that rises in your heart. Also, do not worry that prayer will take too much time. As we practice praying we learn it does not add to the work of our day. Prayer and action begin working together within us. As we are busy meeting the demands of our lives we begin to realize that deep within we are continuously in conversation with God. As Brother Lawrence puts it, “It is entirely possible to encounter God, or spend time with Jesus, amid the hustle and bustle of all we have to do.”  Even when we do not feel equipped or capable to pray, we need only look inward and listen and there we find we are in God’s presence. 

“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the heart, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).