• Do You Have a Genuine Prayer Life?

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    Real faith filled life begins with real prayer. Many of us put in our weekly visits to church and consider that enough time.  True prayer can be a great thing.

    A Good prayer can and should be intensely personal, we cannot learn to pray personally, or ever excel at it, unless we are willing to pray privately. Our Lord tells us this point blank when he warns us not to be hypocrites, who pray only in public, but to go to our rooms, close our doors and pray privately to our Father, who reads the secrets of our hearts (Matthew 6). In fact, the New Testament speaks repeatedly about private prayer (and says comparatively little about any other kind). Jesus prayed at his baptism (Luke 3:21), He frequently went aside to pray alone (see Matthew 14, Mark  1 & 6, Luke 5 & 6, etc.), He prayed at the time of his Transfiguration (Luke 9), He prayed that Peter would not fail in his faith (Luke 22), and He prayed mightily during his Passion (Matthew 26, Mark 14). Even his great priestly prayer at the Last Supper (for all those the Father had given Him in the world) was an intensely personal prayer said in the presence of the Twelve (John 17).

    Not surprisingly for one who prayed so frequently, Our Lord also taught often about personal and private prayer. He enjoined us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute, curse and calumniate us (Matthew 5, Luke 6); He told us to pray for vocations (Matthew 9, Luke 10); He urged us to pray against the temptations and trials of the end times (Matthew 24, Mark 13); and He warned us to pray unceasingly (Mark 13, Luke 18, Luke 21). He also explained that we would receive whatever we asked in prayer (Matthew 21, Mark 11), and He taught us the Our Father so we would know both how to pray and what kinds of things to pray for (Matthew 6, Luke 11). The evidence abounds in the gospels, and this emphasis on personal prayer continues in both the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles.

    In the many New Testament texts on prayer, we see Our Lord emphasizing again and again the need to pray persistently, without losing heart. He told two wonderful stories about the importance of persistence, one concerning a widow and an unjust judge (Luke 18), and the other about a man who needed to borrow bread from his neighbor in the middle of the night (Luke 11). Both the judge and the neighbor, neither of whom loved as God loves, succumbed to the onslaught of prayer. Moreover, Jesus sometimes demanded that same persistence from others, as in the case of the Canaanite woman who actually had to argue with the Son of God that even dogs get the crumbs from under their master’s table (Matthew 15, Mark 7). The result was that He healed her daughter.

    After the story of the importunate neighbor, Our Lord so stressed persistence in prayer that it became a proverb: “I tell you, ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). But his next point is even more dramatic. What father, Jesus asks, will give his son a serpent when he asks for a fish or a scorpion when he asks for an egg? This question is the prelude to Our Lord’s final and greatest lesson about prayer: If we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children, “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

    For this reason, there is nothing on this earth more powerful than a person at prayer. Nothing is better calculated to overcome any conceivable obstacle, and we can give or receive no greater gift than prayer.

    {For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter }

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