November 2009 - Vol. 34
What is Christian prayer? It is first and foremost a response to God’s revelation of himself, his love and truth, which has been given to us through his Son Jesus Christ. A key aspect of prayer is its relationship with the Word of God in Scripture. Isidore of Seville, a church father from the 7th century wrote:
"Anyone who wants to be always united to God must pray often and read the Bible often. For in prayer it is we who are speaking to God, but in the readings it is God speaking to us."Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit has inspired Christians to lift hearts and minds, hands and voices to the praise and worship of God. Prayer is our response to God's invitation to be in a relationship with him. C.S. Lewis, in an essay on prayer, explained why prayer is something more than simply asking God to do something for us.
"Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows himself to us. That he answers prayers is a corollary – not necessarily the most important one – from that revelation. What he does is learned from what he is."We pray because God has put his own Spirit within us who "himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). That is why the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to "pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:18). As Christians we can confidently pray to our heavenly Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The following sampling of prayers are taken from a variety of Christian traditions, both East and West. They have been recorded and handed down through the centuries, and used by Christians in personal as well as corporate prayer with other Christians.
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