Reflections: On The Power of Prayer…
“One single grateful thought towards heaven, is the most perfect prayer.” Minna von Barnhelm
“Begin always with all prayer and supplications in the spirit” Ephesians 6:18
Today, I went back to see Avatar in 3D and the scene where the Na’vi gathered under their most sacred tree to offer a group prayer to God (Eywa), got me thinking about the myriad ways people from different cultures around the world pray; and about the power of prayer and its impact on life – particularly everyday life. When I got home, I decided to run a quick internet search on the topic and found enough data to keep me occupied for a lifetime.
I found listed in Richard Foster’s classic book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, 21 types of prayer.* Each prayer had a specific purpose yet collectively established that we reach out to God constantly with a litany of reports, requests and reactions. Throughout this piece, I have interwoven prayers, blessings and pieces on prayer from other sources.
“Prayer is not a discourse. It is a form of life, the life with God. That is why it is not confined to the moment of verbal statement.” Jacques Ellul
“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” John Bunyan
Om purnamadah, purnamidam, purnat purnamudachyate,
Purnasya purnamadaya purnamevavashisyate.
Om shanti shanti shanti
This is perfect, that is perfect, from the perfect springs the perfect,
If the perfect is taken from the perfect, only the perfect remains.
May peace, peace, and more peace be everywhere. The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad
“Accustom yourself gradually to carry Prayer into all your daily occupation — speak, act, work in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be.” François Fénelon
“Rich is the person who has a praying friend.” Janice Hughes
Foster’s book reminded me that “God values the ordinary” and every act of supplication, intercession, expiation, adoration and meditation pries open another door to God’s heart. God welcomes all prayerful hearts regardless of the size of the issue or one’s religious inclinations. This is an interesting point because we often look at prayer through the lens of a huge event or big request that was answered. Yet, it is the blessings of our everyday, grinding moments that constitute the peace and understanding we experience routinely.
“Prayer in its highest form is agonizing soul sweat.” Leonard Ravenhill
“We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another.” William Law
Then a priestess said, Speak to us of Prayer.
And he answered, saying:
You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
And if it is your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet. Kahlil Gibran on Prayer
“The Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer is repeated daily by millions who have not the slightest intention of letting anyone’s will be done but their own.” Aldous Huxley
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Corrie Ten Boom
In my research, I found many types of prayers as well as styles of praying, however, the most common thread for prayerful people from different faiths worldwide was/is the belief in a great God and the basic goodness of people. In terms of style, our prayers can be formal, conversational, devotional/scriptural, prayer walking/dancing or spontaneous songs and inspired prayers. While the styles are distinct, we all tend to use several of the praying styles listed above at once.
“Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God.” Andrew Murray
“There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying.” John G. Lake
May God have mercy on those who lead the way
and those who come behind and those who fulfill their vows,
and those who seek to fulfill them,
with His Grace and bounty, His great benefits and favors!
For He is the best object of petition and the noblest object of hope;
and God is the best protector and the most merciful
of those who show mercy, and the best of friends and the best of heirs
and the best replacer of what has been consumed. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi
“You may pray for an hour and still not pray. You may meet God for a moment and then be in touch with Him all day.” Fredrik Wisloff
“I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.” John Wesley
Our prayers can be vocal, mental or meditative and we connect through the following channels:
Prayer of Supplication: Petition or asking for something
Prayer of Intercession: Mediate on behalf of another person.
Prayer of Faith: This means knowing God’s will and praying with the insight that the outcome will be for the best of all. Unforgiveness and doubt are two obstacles to the prayer of faith
Prayer of Agreement: When two or more people come together and agree with one another and with the Word of God that something specific will be done
Prayer of Praise and Worship: Praise and worship brings us into the presence of God.
Prayer of Thanksgiving: A prayer of appreciation for our lives and for everything in it.
Prayer of Praise and Adoration: This is prayer centered completely on God in praise of the greatness of God,
Prayer of Confession/Penitence: Asking for forgiveness for the bad things we did
Prayer of Expiation: Acknowledging our sins and asking God for forgiveness and mercy
Prayer of Love: Expressions of our love and charity/goodwill for God
Meditative/Contemplative Prayer: This is prayer that incorporates silence, chants/songs, and deep reflections on our spiritual lives and actions.
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln
“We all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives – altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter.” Richard Foster
“I have seen You in the sanctuary,” David said,
“and beheld Your power and Your glory.
Because Your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify You.
I will praise You as long as I live,
and in Your name I will lift up my hands.” King David in Psalm 63:2-4
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven, for where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew. 18:19-20
“To pray is to change. This is great grace…” Richard Foster
When we pray, we are communicating/talking to God and our faith grows as we build a regular practice of prayer. At some point in our lives, many of us turn to prayer for comfort, confirmation or communication with the universal creator we call by different names. Others have a daily prayer life that is interwoven with everything else they do; every gesture becomes a form of prayer in action and an immediate act of great faith. For those who have embraced the discipline of building a prayerful life, there is power in the act as the commitment grows and the results include the sheer joy/satisfaction that comes from praying.
There is no doubt that as more people find their preferred form of worship and learn to respect each others faith, the journey to global peace will become a shorter one. May you and your prayers be heard in heaven. What does prayer mean to you? Do you have a preferred style/type of prayer? Share your thoughts below. Thank you!
*Foster’s 21 Forms of Prayer – Simple, Forsaken, Examen, Tears, Relinquishment, Formation, Covenant, Adoration, Rest, Sacramental, Unceasing, Heart, Meditative, Contemplative, Ordinary, Petitionary, Intercessory, Healing, Suffering, Authoritative, and Radical.
Photos ~ via Google Images & Flickr
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©