Do you pray?
Do you meditate?
Are you a thinking person?
If you pray, to whom do you pray? And, what do you say? And, how do you say it?
Do you pray spontaneously or do your words come from memory, as in the saying- praying of THE LORD’S PRAYER.
Do you pray at certain times or do you pray spontaneously? Or both? Is prayer meaningful for you when others pray and you are involved? Like the saying of grace before dinner. Do you personally engage in that practice and are you involved, blessed when someone else says grace? Are you involved, blessed, communicating in church when someone else prays at a certain time for certain things, and for certain people? Are you blessed, are you spirit-filled when that happens?
The dictionary gives us a definition of prayers as follows:
A SOLEMN REQUEST FOR HELP OR EXPRESSION OF THANKS ADDRESSED TO GOD OR AN OBJECT OF WORSHIP
Surely the definition of prayer is more than that, better than that, don’t you think? That dictionary definition never even mentions prayer for others or for guidance. For wisdom. For understanding. The definition does incorporate thanks, thanksgiving, a good thing, and of course our requests, our needs and even our wants and that’s a good thing. But surely, there is much more to the definition, especially as an individual engages in prayer as he or she would. Perhaps the definition of prayer, the content of prayer is redefined every time anyone prayers, at least for that individual.
But the definition of PRAYER from the dictionary, identifies this so-called request or expression procedure as one which can be addressed to GOD or an OBJECT OF WORSHIP. An object of worship? Like what, an idol or perhaps a saint? Some cults worship animals and even pray to them. In any event:
TO WHOM DO YOU PRAY?
If you pray to GOD, who and what is your God? That surely makes an enormous difference, does it not? A Muslim prays to Allah and Allah only. A Jew prays to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, only. A Christian prays to God the Father, through a divine Son and with the aid of a Holy Spirit. All are different. Surely all three, and so many others can not be real and if the God to whom one prays is not real, does not really exist, that would mean the prayer of an individual no matter how well intentioned goes nowhere, certainly not to the ears of a non-existent God, don’t you think?
And of course, there are those by the millions who do not pray. Perhaps they don’t even meditate. They can be generally termed ATHEISTS or perhaps NATURALISTS. They believe in no God so of course, there is no such thing as prayer to something which does not exist. It seems as though they are missing something, something fundamental and necessary in life, something spiritual which they can not recognize, don’t you think?
And then there is the AGNOSTIC. He or she is one not sure, uncertain. Perhaps there is a God and perhaps not. I doubt if an agnostic would bother to pray for that individual would be unsure of the object of the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer, or whether or not any prayer would even be heard, don’t you think? There is a little less listening on the part of the Almighty when atheism or agnosticism increases, don’t you think? More time perhaps for those of us who do pray.
But I suggest to you that all men and women pray, every single one. Prayer, no matter the words, comes from a wellspring of spirituality, a human resource of emotionality, of feeling. Prayer comes from a spirit mankind. A sense of something far more than ourselves, of greater powers, of creative and forceful powers in this universe is built within us. The notion of God is there whether we like it or not, whether we recognize it or not. No human being, no atheist, no naturalist can extinguish the notion of God built in, genetic if you will. To deny these genetic things is itself a form of dialogue with a greater power, a form of prayer whether the naturalist admits or not. Any act of meditation, a solemn contemplation of things greater than self especially this earth and all that it means, and the universe in which we live, any meditation of those wonders and splendors is an act of prayer, whether the atheist admits or not. Even thinking about these things, pondering the wonder of the universe and the internal words which express those thoughts is a form of prayer. The scientist prays whether or not that scientist believes in God. An atheistic philosopher prays, wrestles with the Almighty even as the philosopher attempts to disprove God in any form. It is again within every human being to wrestle with the issue of the divine, something powerful, a creative power out there, somewhere is a form of prayer. To deny the spirit in mankind, that spirit which searches for expression every day, perhaps even all day is to deny all things human entirely. Many believe that the spiritual, THE SOUL is most important in the trinity of body, mind and spirit. Perhaps it is, even for the naturalist, the atheist, perhaps it is.
A naturalist, an atheist could not direct prayer of any kind, that is communion, requests, meditation or thinking to a Christian God, not believing in that God. Christianity to an atheist takes an unknown force, a universal power and mythologizes, personalizes that force in an attempt to make what is subjective
objective, making the ethereal definitive. Christianity, the atheist says, invents God and teaches the divine through myth, stories and proclamations all man-made. The revelations of men and women viewed as prophets, messiahs or sons of God are invented by men who wish God to be as they want. Mohammad, Moses, Jesus the Messiah are made up, mythical, mere men and no more. It is man’s idea, says the atheist, of what God is but without proof, evidence or factual foundation. If the mind, the intellect, says the atheist can not comprehend God, then there can be no God. The naturalist scoffs at REVELATION, truth coming top-down or from outside to inside, all such to them, the atheist, foolishness. They are natural men, hardened, immune to certain spiritual truths and for them, prayer is no more than foolishness. It seems to many that these individuals live incomplete lives, lives spent denying spirituality, so much of the soul, much of feeling and emotion and as one critic said, PRISONERS OF THE INTELLECT. Even as they deny the existence of God, so they deny much about themselves. Some of course do believe in the existence of God, like the brilliant Albert Einstein. One could never be sure WHO his God was but there was SOMETHING out there, whatever that something was. Even Einstein believed in a form of REVELATION for everything which is, was in fact created by this Supreme Being, this powerful universal force whatever it was. I suppose that is a start in a spiritual passage and one could say that even Einstein prayed, as he meditated and thought about, as his brilliant thinking process contemplated the universe and all that it meant.
It is interesting to note that Scripture indicates that all wisdom, all knowledge, all truth begins and ends with God himself. That is to say that there really can be no full understanding, full wisdom or full truth without God. The ways and means of God are simply beyond us. We can not understand them unless they are revealed to us, says the Scripture, no matter how brilliant the intellect. We can not even rightly comprehend the universe, this planet created for us without that special revelation. Our minds, even the brilliant mind of an Albert Einstein can not begin to fully comprehend the God of the Universe. The only way to comprehend this God, says the Scripture, is to pray, to ask for wisdom and understanding, God-given recognizing we can not comprehend all truth without that. We can not know God without asking to know. We can not know God unless we pray to God. We can not begin to comprehend all that God is unless we meditate. Unless we WAIT ON THE LORD. Unless we allow the divine to enter, to take spiritual initiative and reveal. Through prayer and meditation, we are instructed, taught and our thinking processes structured right. When that kind of divine revelation happens, as the Scripture says:
THINK ON THESE THINGS
That process, all of that is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. The naturalist, the atheist never gets that.
Would that all men and women would pray, meditate and think as a person of faith. How different, how much better our world would be. Imagine a political world chockfull of politicians who pray, meditate and think right. Imagine the level of morality, standards, truthfulness which would pervade decision making and allow our country, our world in fact to be such a better place, a moral place. Imagine a world where faith rules, where all mankind engages in prayer, meditation and straight thinking. As one said, that would be akin to heaven on earth. Peace on earth and goodwill for all mankind. What a wonderful world that would be.
That, says the Christian, is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. HE came as a love gift, a revelation from God, a man in life and through death to bring change, the right kind of change to every human being, a man who came to bring peace and goodwill now and for eternity. A man who came as the supreme revelation of the real God, the one God, the right God for all mankind. It is through him and the spirit which surrounds him, THE HOLY SPIRIT that there is communion with and access to God. It is through Son and Spirit that prayer occurs, prayer rightly directed and requested, the only prayer which can in fact be real and can in fact be heard. No atheist, no naturalist can believe that for it is nothing more than myth, man-made-up, foolishness. But to those who believe, it is in fact the power of God, even as it is the access to God.
Muslims say the same of Allah. Muslims are devout in prayer believing only their Allah can hear and answer prayer. All else are the words of an infidel, worthless, even blasphemous says the Muslim. No Jew would ever consider praying to and through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Messiah. For them, the Messiah is yet to come and the carpenter from Nazareth has made false claims. Prayer for the Jew can only be directed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the great I AM, Jehovah himself. Truth matters so very much for prayers ill-directed go nowhere.
But presuming that you are a person of faith, a person of prayer, what a powerful force prayer is. It is a process which opens. The ego is moved aside. The intellect, the thinking process takes second place. The act of prayer allows one to be open to the universe, to seek higher powers, to fellowship and commune. To ask and make requests. All of that is so powerful.
One could also say that prayer is a product of a spiritual state of being, existential so to speak. Prayer is an expression, whatever that expression is, of the deep feelings, the deep emotionality, the deep spirituality of any human being. It is interesting that Scripture relates that prayer in its elementary form is little more than the groaning of the spirit. We are told that God knows the spirit of every individual, the expression, the purpose of the prayerful act even before the words. God knows no matter the words. Prayer begins when the spirit activates. As such, one can be connected at all times, connected with God, His universe, His creation, open and transparent before these incredible forces and constantly always in a state of prayer. Hence the Scripture admonition that we should pray without ceasing, always and at all times, constantly living in a state of prayer and communion. What a beautiful, open, transparent way to live, don’t you think?
Scripture tells us that there are those who think they will be heard by God because of their many words, their eloquent words, their intellectual words. Words, at least at that level don’t matter. What is real, the groanings of the spirit are all that matter.
And, to the contrary, we are told that there is little meaning, little value praying in public, praying to be heard. Prayerful value occurs in private, when one enters his inner closet and communicates openly and privately with God Almighty. That we are told is the most meaningful form of prayer. That is prayer with the heart transparent, where the soul is ready for meditation, for quiet time, and where thinking, the thought process is spiritually structured and directed. Then occurs prayer in humility. That kind of quiet, private prayer allows the prayer to be filled with thanksgiving, understanding. There comes gratitude, love, change. There comes understanding, and direction. There is then the opportunity to ask, to request from the heart so that needs can be met. There comes peace from the most powerful prayerful times as the one who prays experiences so well:
BE STILL MY SOUL WAIT UPON THE LORD
Waiting, meditating, the thinking process on hold. What a beautiful, absolutely incredible experience, a state of being at the very highest levels. What a wonderful world it would be if all mankind could live in that state of grace, of being, of love.
We are told in the prayer of the Lord that the ultimate objective of prayer is to understand:
THE WILL OF GOD
Thy will be done. For no matter what we pray, or how we pray, the ultimate objective is to understand THE WILL OF GOD. That will, will in fact be done and that will is in fact the answer to the prayers we ask. To know and understand that will is to know ultimate truth. That is the bottom line of prayer, the will of God at work in a life and in the world at large. Oftentimes the will of God is hard to understand. We so readily forget the fact that the ways of God are not our ways, the so-called thinking of God is not as we think. All the more reason for all of us, including and especially our leaders to seek answers through prayer, through meditation and through a thought process divinely structured. Only then can wisdom, divine wisdom guide the thinking and the actions of mankind.
So, my fellow citizens, we are told to pray for our leaders, we are told to pray for our country, for others, for all mankind and to pray even for our enemies. Any human being who seeks to live life alone, on his own, without divine aid goes nowhere. How wonderful it is every day to pray, and to pray without ceasing, to pray spontaneously, and always, living in a prayerful, spiritual state in constant communion with God. How sad for the atheist, the naturalist to miss that. It is the very best part of life. So, I for one do pray that your life is filled with the power of prayer, the miracles of meditation and thoughts from thinking, right-thinking structured by the power and wisdom of the one true God. How much better your life will be and what a better, more wonderful world this will be.
One man, one woman can make a prayerful difference. I pray that you will be that one this very day.