The Right Way to Pray? –

This is a lengthy but well-written piece written by Zev Chafets for the New York Times Magazine in September of 2009.  I’ll give you the closing paragraph in hopes that you’ll want to read the whole essay.  Perhaps without intending to, it demonstrates the centrality of Jesus when it comes to prayer…and therefore everything else as well.

There are some 300,000 churches in America, and I could have picked any one to attend on Easter morning, but I liked being in this one. Especially the kids. They didn’t need Reverend Henderson’s prayer techniques, or the high-tech mantras of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Their prayers weren’t Rabbi Gellman’s suburban Jewish prayers of Thanks! offered to whom it may concern. They didn’t pray to de-center their egos or find transcendence or to set off on a lifelong therapeutic spiritual journey. They prayed to a God with whom they were on a first-name basis, and they believed their prayers gave them power, which they used on behalf of their asthmatic sisters and infirm grandparents and a kid they knew with burns on his body. Sitting in church on Easter morning, I realized that I was probably never going to become a praying man. But if, by some miracle, I ever do, I hope my prayers will be like the prayers of the kids I met at the Love church in Berkeley Springs. Straight-up Gimme! on behalf of people who really need the help.

The Right Way to Pray? –

One Reply to “The Right Way to Pray? –”

  1. I love your excerpt, Mike. Yes, we can learn a lot from children as for prayer, faith without doubt, and worship, for it is written,

    “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
    and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Mt 21:15-16 ESV)

    I remember from my childhood that it was amazing how God made me feel at peace and blessed…

    Indeed, I am reminded of a “not everyday occurrence” when I was about seven or eight years old.
    If there was something I really hated in my school days, then it was doing pieces of needlework. Urgh!
    On a hot summer day in July I sat sweating and squirming next to my more talented classmates in the attic of our old schoolhouse, which was heated up like a sauna. The needle between my fingers slipped more than once over the fabric and the cross stitches I produced were anything but decent. Looking to my friends, I saw that they were almost ready and that their works looked terrific.
    Since I have always been a perfectionist, I felt stressed. “Hurry up!” the teacher said, “there are only ten minutes left.”
    Silently Susanne prayed, “Please, dear God, help me!”
    Alas, nothing extraordinary happened.
    I tried everything I could but I was too slow. Sweating and almost weeping, I startled up as the teacher urged, “Just two minutes to go!”
    My second prayer was not as polite as the first one. “Dear God, You MUST help me!!!”
    What happened then?
    A miracle.
    Not the miracle I hoped it would be. No, it was something far better than that. Although my work was not ready, and the piece of needlework looked nothing much, I didn’t care a pap for it.
    Since at the very moment when I had been feeling so anxious and stressed that I started weeping, so that I was no longer able to see what I ought to do, GOD suddenly hemmed me in, behind and before. He comforted my restless heart with His deep peace in a kind of trance through His first ecstatic embrace I experienced in my life. I felt His presence all around my body, in the whole room, and in me as well. There was so much love inside of me that I couldn’t help but utter a shout of delight (not thaaat loud 😉 ).
    Afterwards I felt entirely satisfied (body & soul), and I realized how unimportant school was, particularly with regard to such a wonderful encounter with our Creator.

    In fact, the relationship I had with God as a child was wonderful. I also recall feeling His Spirit accompanying me on my way to and especially from school when I was dawdling, somehow lost in my daydreams. He was always there. And every evening in bed I prayed to Him because I could always only sleep after my prayers.

    What an amazing God who wants to meet you and me in our prayers. Do not wonder if you not only meet Him there but living saints and “dead” loved ones as well. 😉
    For this very reason, I decided to link an entry and the related comments, dealing with the topic of ‘The Right Way To Pray’ too, that do not offer ready-made solutions but thought-provoking stuff for those who like to be challenged.

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