Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
Photo credit: istockphoto.com
In her best-selling book, Better to Light One Candle, Stephanie Raha shared some thoughts on prayer by the late American writer William Arthur Ward. These were the words:
“Wonderful things happen to us when we live expectantly, believe confidently, and pray affirmatively. Seeking to find how I should pray, this came to mind: Thank God each day.
“Prayer does not always bring us what we want; rather it helps us to become the kind of person we should be. The value of prayer is not in what it gives us, but in what it makes us. It is not primarily a method of getting, but it is a splendid way of growing.”
Prayer is our connection with the one who promised: “Call to me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“Prayer makes your heart bigger, until it is capable of containing the gift of God himself. Prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service on behalf of the poor,” said Mother Teresa.
Dr. Eben Alexander, the man behind Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, considers prayer as “communicating with God.” He writes: (It) is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time, it’s the most natural one of all because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal-and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”
Gordon B. Hinckley, author of Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes, reiterates: “Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him.”
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense,” Oswald Chambers wrote. “We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”
When He was still on earth, Jesus Christ taught us how we should pray. Matthew 6:9-13 recorded: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Actually, there are no fast rules when it comes to prayer. But some church leaders believe a prayer must have four things: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. In order not to forget them, just think of ACTS.
Adoration is our way of acknowledging God’s power and might. Apart from Him, we cannot do anything. He alone deserves to be adored.
Confession is taking our time in telling Him what wrongdoings we had done — to Him, to others, and to ourselves. A person can never talk with another person with whom he had committed a blunder unless he has asked for forgiveness.
Thanksgiving means appreciating all the blessings we have received from him yesterday, the other month, and even those in the past years. The air we breathe, of being still alive, for keeping us safe when traveling, the recognition we receive — those things that, without Him, we won’t accomplish and have gotten.
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough,” Meister Eckhart reminded.
Supplication is asking help from Him. In The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran wrote: “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
It is asking for help that most people spend too much of their time praying. There are too many things to ask for that to mention all that we want will sometimes take forever. This reminds me of a story that was shared by Donald T. Regan in the book 1000 Stories You Can Use.
There was a man whose business was falling apart. He was a devout person who had given generously to the church for several years. He figures that perhaps there were accounts receivable he hadn’t pursued. So he went to the church and asked God to let him win the lottery.
He left the church and waited expectantly. However, nothing happened. He returned to the church again but was somewhat upset. Once again, he pleaded his case. The same story happened.
He returned to church once more. This time, he was very angry. He shouted to God: “Why don’t you give me a break?”
Suddenly, a great wind swept through the church, and a deep, powerful voice said, “Give you a break? Why don’t you give me a break? At least buy a ticket!”
Finally, here’s a thought from Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In The Brothers Karamazov, he wrote: “Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be a new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.”