Man's Difficulty with Prayer

—and not to faint.


— St. Luke 18:1

There are moods of such satisfaction in God that a man may feel as if nothing were left to pray for, as if he had but to wait with patience for what the Lord would work; there are moods of such hungering desire, that petition is crushed into an inarticulate crying; and there is a communion with God that asks for nothing, yet asks for everything. This last is the very essence of prayer, though not petition. It is possible for a man, not indeed to believe in God, but to believe there is a God, and yet not desire to enter into communion with him; but he that prays and does not faint will come to recognize that to talk with God is more than to have all prayers granted—that it is the need of all prayer, granted or refused. And he who seeks the Father more than anything he can give, is likely to have what he asks, for he is not likely to ask amiss.

Even such as ask amiss may sometimes have their prayers answered. The Father will never give the child a stone that asks for bread; but I am not sure that he will never give the child a stone that asks for a stone. If the Father say, “My child, that is a stone; it is not bread;” and the child answer, “I am sure it is bread; I want it,” may it not be well he should try his bread?

Commentary

Prayer and Being
by Diane Adams

How well do you know yourself? Think about this: If you had to describe yourself, as a spiritual being, without any circumstantial facts such as name, age, occupation, relationships or appearance, could you think of anything to say? The soul is what Jesus came to save, not the brain.

My parents chose a name for me. I was born in a certain year. I do things I like to do. Diane is my earth name, but it is not who I am. I am a woman, but that is not who I am. I am short, but that is not who I am. I am over forty, but that is not who I am, either! To know yourself is impossible without a knowledge of God, and I think a knowledge of God is impossible without a knowledge of who you are, a knowledge of your own soul.

After we leave this world, God promises he will give us a new name. How will we know who we are when we longer have a bank account, parents, children, or a house to define us? Learning to see ourselves through God’s eyes is learning about who we are, why we are important to him as an individual.

Experts estimate that about 107 billion people have lived on earth. Every single one is different. Perhaps God wanted so many people because there are so many ways to know him, so many ways to reflect part of who he is, and every single one of us is a unique reflection of an aspect of God--like a diamond with 107 billion facets!

The goal of prayer is for the soul to talk with God. In order for the soul to commune with its creator, it is helpful to be aware of the process. Thoughts flow steadily through the mind, every waking minute and even when we sleep. But we can stand apart from these thoughts; we can watch them objectively. The soul is not our thought processes; it is the one who watches them. A soul is the essential ‘I’ inside of each of us, our own little facet of being that expresses the presence of God in a way no other being can. To nurture this connection is, I think, what MacDonald refers to when he says to talk with God is the need of all prayer. The ultimate goal of prayer is being with our father.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection described his soul-union with God in a way which I think reflects a life of being with God in prayer, not only with the thoughts, but with a connection that goes beyond the mind, into the soul itself. Prayer is not just something we do on our knees; it is a way of living, a flow created between the maker and a seeker who desires him above all things:

The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence.

God, teach us how to be with you.