Cultural Psychology

Recognizing the Power of Prayer

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A CURIOUS thing about prayer is that everybody knows it works, but they act otherwise. It’s not that prayer doesn’t work, or only works sometimes; it’s that people forget to pray. Scripture teaches, the saints affirm, and I am personally convinced that prayer works. And it always works.

You are not just some lump of clay who utters a few words, thinking God might hear and weakly hoping God might choose to act on them. You are a divine, immortal being, made in God’s image and likeness. Further, if you are properly on the spiritual path, you are a Son of God (women too). Your prayers are not minor things, then. They are, or are meant to be, immensely powerful cosmic forces.

Well-Motivated Prayers

God always hears; and He answers all well-motivated prayers.

What is well-motivated? That means, principally, that the impetus for the prayer comes not from you, but from God. You, to be sure, must apply your will in prayer; prayer involves an active effort of faith and will. In some sense, your will is probably instrumental in making happen what you pray for. But if the prayer is well-motivated, working beneath or within your will is God’s will, moving yours.

If you pray for something entirely selfish — like to win the lottery — chances are that God’s will is not at work in the prayer. But if you pray for another person, and out of genuine concern or compassion, then God is behind it. Then pray fervently, believing not just that your request will be granted, but that you act on God’s behalf in making it.

People sometimes wonder why we’re put on earth. Theories include that we are here as punishment, as purification, or as education. But perhaps the most important reason we are here is to assist God. We are unique beings — part material and part divine. On that basis we have a special role in making things happen here. Our prayers have a unique efficacy — we can accomplish things that angels cannot.

When you pray for another, the person is always helped. Sometimes the help is not recognizable: God’s wisdom and foresight are infinitely greater than ours. But if you request benefit or help for another, the prayer will be answered — and in ways better than you could have planned or imagined.

It’s truly a wonder that people don’t take advantage of this tremendous resource, prayer. It’s like a person who lives in direst poverty, oblivious to a purse full of gold coins that they hold. If one could see how valuable and effective prayer truly is, ones life would be transformed. One would pray all the time, and for everyone.

So be moderate in most things, but not in prayer. Pray for small things and great things. Pray for those around you; for whoever is in need. Make prayer your vocation.


Written by John Uebersax

January 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm

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