Two Perspectives on Prayer

Prayer by kimxtom via Flickr

1 Corinthians 14:15 NRSV
What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also;
I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NRSV
Pray without ceasing,

James 5:16b NRSV
… The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Extended quote by Steve Garnaas-Holmes from his blog post Praying
Prayer is powerful, but not like the supposed power of Uri Geller who claimed to bend spoons by pure mental influence. The power of prayer is not in us, or in our prayer. It is in God. So we don’t “pray hard.” We pray soft. We pray not as a tool, but a gift, not a demand, but an awareness. Prayer is not a crowbar for our will, even if our hopes are righteous and worthy, but immersion in God’s grace. We open ourselves to God, the loving indwelling Presence, who prays in us. We give our desires to the Creator, whose infinite power creates the world anew, including us and those for whom we pray. God’s loving, healing presence takes over us, and our lives become more fully and wholly for God’ sake alone. There is power in that which may or may not have the outcome I want, but it makes this world heaven.

Extended quote by Don Shelby,
former pastor of First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica, California (1983)

Prayer is not only quiet contemplation, it is also hard work.
It is not only folded hands, it is also bruised knuckles knocking in the dark.
It is not only a joyful finding, it is also perennial seeking.
It is not only a humble receiving, it is also audacious asking.
Prayer is not always like a cloister;
it is more often like a workout gym, a rehearsal hall or a batter’s box.
An occasional wish turned Godward, a spasmodic plea gasped to Jesus in a crisis,
or an “Our Father … ” drowned in worship is not enough.

Prayer is now and always a discipline … A weekend golfer sometimes gets off a great shot, a passenger assisted through radio instructions can land an airplane in an emergency, and an amateur writer sometimes turns an unforgettable phrase. But to win the British Open, to command a transcontinental jetliner, or to garner the Nobel Prize in literature, takes more than occasional experience and natural ability.

It requires natural ability and practice; dedication and practice; inspiration and practice.

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