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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Promise of Prayer

Sometimes the work of prayer feels completely overwhelming.

Where do I start?

How do I know what to pray?

How do I remember everyone's requests?

How do I know if I'm doing it "right"?

These are just a few of the questions that weigh on me in my walk of faith.

We can exhaust ourselves by focusing on the questions and what we "should" do while forgetting that we are powerless in our own strength.

The real work of prayer comes from God.  He alone knows the answer each prayer needs which we cannot see in our limited understanding.  Paul reminds us in Romans that even when we don't know how to pray, the Spirit prays for us:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
                                                                  Romans 8:26

It's not all up to us.  We are not alone.

Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for (us).
                                                                    Hebrews 7:25

The one thing He asks of us is that we bring a heart of compassion to our brothers and sisters who are hurting or in need.

Those prayers may be simple everyday actions of caring for those we love (including ourselves) with our hearts focused on the unfailing love and inexhaustible mercy of God.

Those prayers may be worship and gratitude.

Those prayers may be a loving presence to someone in need.

Those prayers may be listening.

Those prayers may be our life itself.

Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen shares his insightful understanding of prayer:

"But when we learn to descend with our mind into our heart, then all those who have become part of our lives are led into the healing presence of God and are touched by God in the center of our being.  We are speaking here about a mystery for which words are inadequate.  It is the mystery that the heart, which is the center of our being, is transformed . . . into God's own heart, a heart large  enough to embrace the entire universe."
                                                                      The Way of the Heart

Our responsibility is to be present to the pain around us and hold those needs in our hearts.  God can then transform them into His perfect will which  far exceeds our comprehension.

As our relationship with God deepens, He delights to lead us toward the seemingly impossible goal of praying without ceasing.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.                                
                                                                     1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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