Leaning Back on God

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Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest we wait in silence for God’s voice to us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us; we lean back in His everlasting arms and feel the serenity of perfect security in Him.

–William Barclay,
The Plain Man’s Book of Prayers

We Need a Bucket

c943651e1b6ed8028509f66de7af2bd1There is no lack in us of the impulse to pray. And there is no scarcity of requests to pray. Desire and demand keep the matter of prayer before us constantly. So why are so many lives prayerless? Simply because “the well is deep and you have nothing to draw with.” We need a bucket. We need a container suited to lowering desires and demands into the deep Jacob’s Well of God’s presence and word and bringing them to the surface again. The Psalms are such a bucket.

–Eugene Peterson

Published in: on 05/25/2017 at 9:05  Leave a Comment  
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Surprised by Wonder

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Lord, catch me off guard today.
Surprise me with some moment
of beauty or pain
So that at least for the moment
I may be startled into seeing that you
are here in all your splendor,
Always and everywhere,
Barely hidden,
Beneath.
Beyond,
Within this life I breathe.

–Frederick Buechner

A Prayer for God Seekers

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O Lord our God,
grant us grace to desire thee
with our whole heart; that,
so desiring, we may seek,
and seeking find thee;
and so finding thee
may love thee; and loving thee,
may hate those sins from
which thou has redeemed.
Amen.
–Anselm of Canterbury,
(1033-1109)

Deliver Us

prayingguyFrom the cowardice that
shrinks from new truth.
From the laziness that
is content with half-truths.
From the arrogance that
thinks it knows all truths:
O God of Truth, deliver us.

–Ancient prayer

Published in: on 04/04/2016 at 5:17  Leave a Comment  
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The heart that we need

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Give me O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection
will drag downwards.
Give me an unconquered heart,
which no tribulation can wear out.
Give me an upright heart,
which no unworthy purpose
may tempt aside.

–Thomas Aquinas

Challenging the system

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Prayer: a subversive activity
[that] involves a more or less
open act of defiance
against any claim
by the current regime.

–Eugene Peterson

He can’t get closer

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No prayer can ever
bring God any closer.
Already, without any effort
on your part,
God patiently dwells
within the tender recesses
of your own heart.

–Mike Yaconelli 

A prayer for the journey

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Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

–Thomas Aquinas
(1225–1274)

Image: hossein.zarei3

A strong suspicion

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I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.

–Peter Kreeft
Angels and Demons

Published in: on 12/09/2014 at 2:04  Leave a Comment  
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What next?

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If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are.

All during the day, in the chinks of time between the things we find ourselves obliged to do, there are the moments when our minds ask: ‘What next?’ In these chinks of time, ask Him: ‘Lord, think Your thoughts in my mind. What is on Your mind for me to do now?’ When we ask Christ, ‘What next?’ we tune in and give Him a chance to pour His ideas through our enkindled imagination. If we persist, it becomes a habit.

The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says “Amen” and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him your ideas.

–Frank C. Laubach
(1884 – 1970)

Misguided requests

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We are forever asking God to do things that He either has already done or cannot do because of our unbelief. We plead for Him to speak when He has already spoken and is at that very moment speaking. We ask Him to come when He is already present and waiting for us to recognize Him. We beg the Holy Spirit to fill us while all the time we are preventing Him by our doubts.

–A. W. Tozer

Artwork: Leonid Afremov

Published in: on 11/03/2014 at 4:57  Leave a Comment  
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Opening our hearts

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Prayer is opening our hearts to the One who is the source of all love. Prayer is like lying in a field of falling snow. Silent. In wonder. Waiting until you hear the One who is closer than your own breathing whisper what your heart has always known to be true: that you are loved.

–Mike Yaconelli

Published in: on 06/29/2014 at 17:17  Leave a Comment  
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Salt, umbrellas and prayer

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“Praying for particular things,” said I, “always seems to me like advising God how to run the world. Wouldn’t it be wiser to assume that He knows best?”

“On the same principle,” said he, “I suppose you never ask a man next to you to pass the salt, because God knows best whether you ought to have salt or not. And I suppose you never take an umbrella, because God knows best whether you ought to be wet or dry.”

“That’s quite different,” I protested.

“I don’t see why,” said he. “The odd thing is that He should let us influence the course of events at all. But since He lets us do it in one way I don’t see why He shouldn’t let us do it in the other.”

–C. S. Lewis
God in the Dock

Photo: Robin Halioua

Published in: on 06/13/2014 at 7:44  Leave a Comment  
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The gift of joy

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Yes, joy is God’s gift, but we must stretch out our hands to split the kindling of prayer, carry the logs of good deeds, lay the fire of faith, and strike the match of the Spirit. If we do our part, the Lord will not fail to build a cheerful roaring fire in our hearts.

–Mike Mason
Champagne for the Soul

Published in: on 06/10/2014 at 8:39  Leave a Comment  
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Following Jesus

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Following Jesus is the yes that comes after the no. We have renounced self-initiative for Jesus obedience. We have renounced clamoring assertion and replaced them with quiet listening. We watch Jesus work. We listen to Jesus speak. We accompany Jesus into new relationships, odd places, odd people. We pray our prayers in Jesus’ name. Keeping company with Jesus, observing what he does, and listening to what he says develops into a life of answering God, a life of responding to God, which is a life of prayer.Page-divider

Following Jesus is not a robotic lockstep, marching in a straight line after Jesus. The following gets inside of us, becomes internalized, gets into our muscles and nerves. It’s much more like a ramble, and it becomes prayer.

Prayer is what develops in us after we step out of the center and begin responding to the center, to Jesus.

–Eugene Peterson
Living the Resurrection

Turning to Reality

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Prayer means turning to Reality, taking our part, however humble, tentative and half-understood, in the continual conversation, the communion, of our spirits with the Eternal Spirit; the acknowledg-ment of our entire dependence . . . For Prayer is really our whole life toward God: our longing for Him, our “incurable God-sickness,” as Barth calls it, our whole drive towards Him. It is the humble correspondence of the human spirit with the Sum of all Perfection, the Fountain of Life. No narrower definition than this is truly satisfactory, or covers all the ground.

–Evelyn Underhill
(1875-1941)

Expect change

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Prayer does not
change God,
but it changes him
who prays.

–Søren Kierkegaard

Overcoming sin

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He who does not give up prayer
cannot possibly continue
to offend God habitually.
Either he will give up prayer,
or he will stop sinning.

-St. Alphonsus Ligouri
(1696 – 1787)

Surrendering to Life

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Prayer is fundamentally and essentially self-surrender . . . It is self-renunciation in order to find self-realization. Your petty self is renounced in order that your potential self might be realized. Prayer is the wire surrendering to the dynamo, the flower surrender to the sun, the child surrendering to education, the patient surrendering to the surgeon, the part surrender to the whole—prayer is life surrendering to Life.

A branch not surrendered to the vine, but cut off and on its own, it not free; it is dead. A person who doesn’t pray isn’t free; he is futile. He is a blind man who won’t surrender his blindness to the surgeon in order to see. He is free—to remain blind.

–E. Stanley Jones

The joyful awareness

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The goal of prayer is to live
all of my life and speak all of my words
in the joyful awareness of the presence of God.
Prayer becomes real when we grasp
the reality and goodness
of God’s constant presence
with ‘the real me.’

–John Ortberg Jr.

That is what grace means

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Our problem is that we assume prayer is something to master the way we master algebra or auto mechanics. That puts us in the “on-top” position, where we are competent and in control. But when praying, we come “underneath,” where we calmly and deliberately surrender control and become incompetent… The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter.

Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel
the good from the bad, the pure from the impure.

God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by it, we live by it as well. And we pray by it.

–Richard J. Foster

Published in: on 02/28/2013 at 3:47  Leave a Comment  
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Praying with your heart

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The more that prayer
becomes the untrammelled,
free and natural expression
of the desires of our hearts,
the more real it becomes.

–Ole Hallesby
(1879 – 1961)

Faith prays

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Those who do not believe do not pray.
This is a good functional definition of faith.
Faith prays, unbelief does not.

–John A. Hardon

Published in: on 02/08/2013 at 4:46  Leave a Comment  
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Of this we can be sure

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The day may bring many strange things to us,
perplexing or painful or disappointing;
but this stands strong: our prayer
has not been turned away,
nor His lovingkindness.

–Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
 Edges of His Ways

Made to be lovers of God

Prayer is central to our lives because it reaches into the very core of our being, into the heart of human existence. In his Confessions . . . Augustine said that our central drive is our desire for God, whether we recognize this or not. We are not capable of generating our own happiness; we must go outside ourselves to find it. Augustine once told his congregation: “Men are not sufficient for their own bliss.” C. S. Lewis described this process as being “surprised by joy”—the sudden discovery that all our lives we were looking for something beyond our relationships, achievements and successes.

We were, in fact, looking for God,
but did not know it.

Only when our drives and desires, hopes and loves are redirected towards God, do we become fully human. We were made for our relationships, created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The function of prayer is to bring these realizations to the surface of our lives.

Prayer points us beyond ourselves,
beyond our friendships,
to the deepest realization of all:
that God made us to be lovers of God.
He is at the very heart of our hearts.

–James Houston

Prayer of blessing

“May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered
into nothingness, that you may experience
the powerlessness and poverty of a child
and sing and dance in the love of God
the Father, the Son
and the Spirit.”

–Jean Vanier

Called to join the Dance

Our desire for God did not originate with us. We did not initiate the possibility of this relationship. The Trinity made it possible and kindled the desire within us. We do not initiate this relationship. It is God who invites us to join the trinitarian conversation already occurring. The triune God invites us to share in intimacy with God and summons us to enter the communion of self-giving love.

The dynamism of mutuality and self-giving
goes on everlastingly in the being of God,
and we are being drawn in.

Prayer is joining an already occurring conversation. The Spirit calls us to participate in the relationship of intimacy between Father and Son and be caught up in the dance already begun. In prayer on this earth we join the dance and begin to experience the movement and interplay of the trinitarian Persons.

–Clark Pinnock

Coincidences

When I pray,
coincidences happen;
when I don’t,
they don’t.

–William Temple
(1881 – 1944)

Published in: on 08/26/2011 at 5:33  Leave a Comment  
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Prayer is needed

We should not permit prayer
to be taken out of the schools;
that’s the only way
most of us got through.

–Sam Levenson

Published in: on 08/24/2011 at 14:59  Leave a Comment  
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