Is our prayer to God very often a way of saying, ‘My will be done, O, Lord, not yours!’?
“We may feel ourselves too polite or too pious to say this in so many words and so crudely, but how many of our prayers amount to telling God what he really should do–if only he were as wise as we are?”
— Russian Orthodox Bishop Anthony Bloom
Let us not misunderstand the nature of prayer, particularly in the Jewish tradition. The primary purpose of prayer is not to make requests. The primary purpose is to praise, to sing, to chant. Because the essence of prayer is a song, and man cannot live without a song.
“Prayer may not save us. But prayer can make us worthy of being saved.”
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (Click here for a 10 minute clip about this holy man), then scroll down for others’ reflections on prayer.)
(in the photo: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with MLK Jr. at Selma. From far left: U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who had been severely beaten on March 7, 1965 while leading the “Bloody Sunday” march; an unidentified nun; Ralph Abernathy; MLK; Ralph Bunche, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.; Rabbi Heschel; the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth).
The end of prayer is not to win concessions from Almighty Power, but to have communion with Almighty love.
“The final triumph of prayer is not ours; it is God’s. When we are upon our knees before him, it is God, and not we, who must prevail.”
— Percy C. Ainsworth, 19th century Methodist preacher
Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives–and, indeed, what we get out of our lives–is simply the person we become.”
— Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
Every petition of the prayer becomes a bringing of all into the presence and the love of God.”
Simon Barrington-Ward (via The Mercy Site)
If your acts of prayer are the most regular things in your life, I think you will find they regulate all else.”
— Orchard, from A Pocket Prayer Book, 1941