I struggle with all that says to me, ‘What is the use of your praying? So many others, who know more of prayer than you do, are praying.
Scripture: Psalm 59.10
My God in his steadfast love will meet me.
Reflection: Faith’s Cry
The Park Forum
It is often disorientation that pushes us into prayer. At the national level it is the immorality of leaders, threats of war, and unpredictability that drive us to pray in unity. I was reminded this week of the proclamation President Obama issued on the National Day of Prayer a few years ago:
For many of us, prayer is an important expression of faith—an essential act of worship and a daily discipline that allows reflection, provides guidance, and offers solace.
Though less than 600 words, the White House document read like a theology of prayer. It was a calling to pray—not for personal or political ends—to engage in the act of faith that is prayer. President Obama presented three outcomes of prayer:
Through prayer we find the strength to do God’s work: to feed the hungry, care for the poor, comfort the afflicted, and make peace where there is strife. In times of uncertainty or tragedy, Americans offer humble supplications for comfort for those who mourn, for healing for those who are sick, and for protection for those who are in harm’s way. When we pray, we are reminded that we are not alone—our hope is a common hope, our pain is shared, and we are all children of God.
There is much to be learned about a person’s theology from their understanding of prayer and much will likely be written about this, and our current, president’s views. But even more can be learned from how a person prays. This is what makes the Psalms so powerful—they teach Christians how to pray by exposing us to intellectually honest, emotionally vulnerable, dedicated times of prayer.
“Faith is never quiet; true faith is a crying faith,” Charles Spurgeon says in his exposition on the Psalms. “If you have confidence in God of such a kind that you do not need to pray, get rid of it; for it is of no use to you; it is a false confidence, it is presumption. Only a crying faith will be a prevailing faith.”
The easiest way to take for granted a country where prayer is nationally endorsed, and—more egregiously—a God who desires to meet us in prayers, is simply not to pray.
The Call to Prayer
Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,* and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. —Psalm 95.6–7
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.