Read the Bible. Reflect and pray.
That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This week and part of next we take some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer that may strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer.
Reflection: For What to Pray
By John Tillman
C.S. Lewis, in some of his final published writings, addressed the question of “How important must a need or a desire be before we can properly make it the subject of a petition?”
As always, the professor is insightful and honest.
“‘Even an intimate human friend is ill-used if we talk to him about one thing while our mind is really on another, and even a human friend will soon become aware when we are doing so.
It may well be that the desire can be laid before God only as a sin to be repented, but one of the best ways of learning this is to lay it before God. Your problem, however, was not about sinful desires in that sense; rather, about desires intrinsically innocent and sinning, if at all, only by being stronger than the triviality of their object warrants.
I have no doubt at all that if they are the subject of our thoughts they must be the subject of our prayers—whether in penitence or in petition or in a little of both. Penitence for the excess, yet petition for the thing we desire. If one forcibly excludes them, don’t they wreck all the rest of our prayers? If we lay all the cards on the table, God will help us to moderate the excesses. But the pressure of things we are trying to keep our of our mind is a hopeless distraction. As someone said, ‘no noise is so emphatic as the one you are trying not to listen to.’
The ordinate frame of mind is one of the blessings we must pray for, not a fancy-dress we must put on when we pray.
And perhaps, as those who do not turn to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask him for childish things will have less readiness to ask him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God’s.”
May we take every thought, every care to Christ. He will lovingly meet with us regardless of the trivialities of our concerns. In this, we may grow more mature and bring more mature petitions. We must be faithful with a little before we may be faithful with much.
*Quotations from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis
Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.— Psalm 71:23
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
1 Chr 1-2 (Listen -11:18)
Hebrews 8 (Listen -2:22)
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Read more from Lewis on Prayer Without Words
Words are in any case secondary. They are only as an anchor. Or, shall I say, they are the movements of a conductor’s baton: not the music
Read more about Inattentiveness in Worship
Lewis chides his readers for casting judgment on the worship practices of others, making an appeal to variety within the community of the church.