The CCEL Times 7.4 (April 9, 2012)
In This Issue:
From the Director
People mean different things by the word prayer. It may refer to a worship service or liturgy. It may refer to devout desires or requests made to God, possibly also including praise, intercession, and thanksgiving. Origen talks about prayer this way already in the third century. Another classic treatment of prayer in this sense may be found in Calvin’s Institutes, Book III, chapter 20--a treatment well worth reading if you haven't already.
Prayer in that sense is located largely in the understanding, though the will is involved. In another usage, prayer is essentially communion with God. In this sense, prayer takes place largely in the will, as an elevation of the mind to God with an expressed or implied willingness to depend on him and give him the love, obedience, and adoration he is due--a desire to aspire to union of spirit with him (see Augustine Baker, Holy Wisdom). A book along these lines that has been influential for me is the Cloud of Unknowing. Why not read a good book about prayer today? Or, better yet, pray.
"A School of Love and Prayer"
By John Rottman
Christians accept the importance of prayer. John Rottman’s article on prayer, however, discusses several areas in which prayer has become increasingly important and present at the seminary where John teaches. He describes, for example, how prayer is used more frequently in worship as well as in informal gatherings at the seminary, and he describes how prayer has become a more significant part of the seminary’s curriculum. While most of us are probably not attending seminary, it’s worthwhile for all of us to examine how prayer can become a more significant part of our lives.
What We're ReadingNecessity of Prayer
by Edward M. Bounds (1835-1913)
In The Necessity of Prayer, Edward Bounds, a 20th century pastor and lawyer, suggests that prayer is an essential part of the Christian believer's life. He writes, "the Christian soldier, if he fights to win, must pray much." Bounds' book, however, is not simply a list of prayers for one to work through, but also a discourse on the very nature of prayer. He connects the nature of prayer to other features of the Christian life, such as faith, reverence, patience, hope, character, conduct, and faithfulness. Bounds' passion for prayer--which compelled him to write nine books on the topic--shines through in this work, and cannot but help motivate those who read it to also see the necessity of prayer. Perfect for individual study, Bounds' book is sure to change the way one prays.
-The Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Featured Hymn"Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying" by Ken Medema (1970)
Author-composer-performer Ken Medema (PHH 259) reveals the following about his writing of this prayer hymn. "'Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying' came out of my New Jersey years. One night [in 1970], I was with a youth group. We started talking about a young man who was in the hospital and who really needed our prayers. In the middle of our prayer time, the idea for this little chorus came to me. I started humming, then singing. Soon the kids were mumbling along with me. We sang that chorus, "Lord, listen to your children praying," several times over...."
-The Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Read more about Hymnary
"Intercession: Every Christian's Duty"
George Whitefield's sermon on prayer is straightforward and organized into three main points:
I. That it is every Christian's duty to pray for others as well as for himself/herself.
Did You Know?
Prayer Warrior Online Group
The Christian Classics Ethereal Library has about a dozen, online discussion groups or study groups. The "Prayer Warriors and the Prayers of the Faithful" group is one of our oldest and largest CCEL study groups. The group leader, Maria, was researching the Early Church Fathers at CCEL when she noticed the online discussion groups and started participating. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to start a discussion group of her own, and she has been leading this study group ever since – for more than five years.
When asked about prayer and the prayer group, Maria wrote the following:
Prayer is important to the daily development of our relationship with our Creator and Savior…. It is our only means of touching upon the divine... it is our link to God. Therefore, to grow with Christ is to be faithful in daily prayer. To sit in attention to the words we pray, to read the Bible, to meditate on those words and imagine what it was like... to learn more about the nature of Jesus, how to live and trust and love. Prayer is essential in all our doings... to give thanks when we are happy and also during the hard times because the grace of God is sustaining you. To pray when trouble is so overwhelming... a sickness... a death... He will send comfort. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, which is very easy to do. Every morning when you wake up offer everything you do to God for His glory and this will make your whole day a prayer. Another way to pray is to remember God during the day by tapping your heart and saying, "Hello Lord, I love you." Or, if you see a co-worker having a bad day, offer a little prayer for him/her. When you hear an ambulance go by, say a little prayer for the person in the ambulance. It takes practice at first, but eventually it will become second nature.
The Prayer Warrior discussion group is always accepting new members. It is a place where anyone can post prayer requests and know that other Christians like Maria will be lifting those prayers up to our Heavenly Father.
View study groups available at CCEL