The Word of Jesus on Prayer

They ought always to pray.

— St. Mark. 18:1

The Lord cared more for his Father’s will than his own fear: “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” There is no apprehension that God might be displeased with him for saying what he would like, and not leaving it all to his Father. Neither did he regard his Father’s plans as necessarily so fixed that they could not be altered by his prayer. The true son-faith is that which comes with boldness, fearless of the Father doing anything but what is right, fatherly, patient, and full of loving-kindness. We must not think to please him by any asceticism even of the spirit; we must speak straight out to him. The true child will not fear, but lay bare his wishes to the perfect Father. The Father may will otherwise, but his grace will be enough for the child.

As to any notion of prevailing by entreaty over an unwilling God, that is heathenish, and belongs to such as think him a hard master, or one like the unjust judge. What so quenching to prayer as the notion of unwillingness in the ear that hears! And when prayer is dull, what makes it flow like the thought that God is waiting to give, wants to give us everything! “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We shall be refused our prayer if that be better; but what is good, our Father will give us with divine good will. The Lord spoke his parable “to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint.”


by Diane Adams

Prayer is the soul talking with God. I almost wish sometimes I had never heard anyone else pray, because of the constructs that are passed down from generation to generation which create a sort of formulaic opportunity for disengagement. Like we’ll say, ‘Dear God, Johnny broke his leg…’, as if God doesn’t know Johnny, or realize that his leg is broken.

The constructs of prayer are a hindrance to me. There’s a way we pray, a method we’re taught for how to do what to many is a uncomfortable or even slightly ridiculous thing that nevertheless must get done. This type of prayer often sounds like announcements at school over the PA system. ‘God, could you report to Johnny’s place after this meeting?’ ‘When you get time, will you talk to Mary about how she’s acting?’ The problem I run into with this sort of prayer is that it is not the soul talking with God. It’s a parody of itself, allowing us a comfortable form of detachment by ritualizing what I think should be our actual thoughts directed toward God, not a collection of prepared remarks that sound like speech.

Lately I have a hard time praying in groups. and sometimes even with other individuals. Because I find that if prayer is the talk of the soul to its maker, having an audience makes it more difficult. One can’t help but include that person’s or people’s perception of our prayer in the prayer itself, even in the form of revolting against the idea. I find it all easier to do without thinking about how someone else might be thinking about my own prayer. Is she spiritual enough to get it through? She forgot to say ‘In Jesus’ name’ and didn’t say ‘amen’. ‘Did I see the eyes open?’

Many seem to think that if we say the right words, in the right order and tone, then God will unclench and give it up because we got it right. Lately I am a little horrified by that idea. I think that God doesn’t need an announcement system from our planet; he is probably aware of what is going on down here. He doesn’t need a slick message using all the religious buzzwords to ensure it gets through. Maybe he just wants to talk. With us. Person to person as it were.

Person to person prayer with God is, to me, simply allowing him into my thoughts. Realizing he knows them all anyway--I can’t actually fool him into thinking they are more holy or more honest than they are. I don’t have it in me any longer to pretend to be someone else when I pray, or to try to dress up my longings and struggles in a nice priestly robe before I allow him to see them. I think my thoughts themselves are prayer. My soul is simply there, open to him without artifice or construct. I allow him access to my thoughts, my true self, but I don’t and can’t create an image of what I want him to think about me. Is this not, after all, the reason God made us in the first place, because he wanted to be with us?