Rossweisse RIP Rossweisse, HellHost and long-time Shipmate.

Robert Armin RIP Robert Armin, Shipmate of long-standing.

Practical praying

In the Purg topic: Thy Kingdom Come, there is much said on the theme of people praing for others to be brought to know God. I wonder if there can be a discussion here about what people believe about the process of praying. If those praing believe that the words they are thinking and/or saying aloud go somewhere, where is that somewhere? By what method are the thoughts or words conveyed? If an answer is believed to have been received, then by what means and from where has it arrived.?

I assure all that I do not ask the questions as a means for saying, well, where's thee objective evidence, but because it is always interesting to hear the opinions of SofF members. Even when I believed, and said prayers, I used to raise the question in my mind, but at the time shrugged my shoulders and got on with the rest of life, especially when the language of the prayers fell harmoniously on the ear.

To DH host: Is this the right place for this?
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Comments

  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    It seems to me that there's two possible answers to this, neither of which are entirely satisfactory:

    1) That God is in heaven, and heaven is somewhere physical, so if we shout really loudly God will hear us: or alternatively
    2) That God is everywhere, including inside our heads so we only have to think things and God will know. The problem I have with this one is that it rather makes God into a Spy in Your Head - and knowing quite how unpleasant the inside of my head is, I'm not sure I want God there. It follows from that that if I am thinking godly thoughts, there's at least an element that it's because I don't want my ungodly thoughts uncovered to the spy in my head - and that seems to be faith through fear.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Fawkes Cat

    Thank you for responding. I think I know what you mean when you talk about the 'sspy in your head', as that is what used to be an idea that I couldn't see an answer to when young. I also wonder how much this question is considered and discussed amongst leaders in Christian religions.
  • LouiseLouise Epiphanies Host
    Hosting
    No it's not a Dead Horse. It belongs in Purgatory. As hosts can no longer move threads I'll close it and ask the admins to move it.

    Please see the Dead Horse Guidelines pinned thread - only these subjects count: 'Specifically: biblical inerrancy, homosexuality, the role of women in church and Christian households, creation and evolution, abortion, closed communion and bitching about church music.'
    Thanks,
    Louise
    Dead Horses Host

    Hosting off

  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    <now reopen for business after being moved, which is one of the all-powerful things admins get to do in this dispensation of the Ship>

    Eutychus
    SoF admin
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Thank you. :)
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    May I ask you a number of questions?

    Why do you think that words have to go somewhere? In my opinion, most words do not go anywhere. If they act at all it is in the response they engender in others, otherwise, they are lost to creation.

    Why do you think that prayer is essentially about words? I mean historically word prayers are only really a subset prayers. You can pray by lighting a candle, crossing yourself or bowing down, none of these actions requires words. Even when words are used it is not clear that the prayers prayed intention is the same as the words used.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    It's a good excuse to give yourself a good talking to. Infinitely immanent God is passively listening too of course. I try and bear that in mind.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Prayer, I think, is a way of directing your thoughts/motivations/feelings away from our self, which is a good thing because it encourages us to be less selfish.

    It can be encouraging and heartwarming to be told you are being prayed for. Unless, of course, you know that someone is praying for a change that you don’t want!
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    May I ask you a number of questions?
    Most definitely, and thank you for adding quite a few new thoughts about what prayer is.
    Why do you think that words have to go somewhere? In my opinion, most words do not go anywhere. If they act at all it is in the response they engender in others, otherwise, they are lost to creation.
    Well, that is something I had not thought of. But in the context of prayers, I suppose I was referring back to my youth, when I was told that God listens to prayers. They were a part of our daily routine. Later, the CofE Morning Service, with its pattern of prayers and order of service replaced the need for personal prayer.
    Yes, I think I do think that words of prayers are meant to reach a receptor, but I'll have to think more about that.
    Why do you think that prayer is essentially about words? I mean historically word prayers are only really a subset prayers. You can pray by lighting a candle, crossing yourself or bowing down, none of these actions requires words. Even when words are used it is not clear that the prayers prayed intention is the same as the words used.
    I think I can answer that more easily. /For me, communication with words is the key. I have never felt or thought about praing without words, and I think when I see people, for instance, lighting a candle for a prayer, I wonder how the person thinks that will make a difference.
    I think there must be words in the person's mind though....
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Tangent- I’m rather relieved to learn that prayer isn’t a dead horse.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited May 2019
    @SusanDoris said -
    I think there must be words in the person's mind though....

    No, not necessarily, I don’t think in words, never mind pray.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Boogie wrote: »
    Prayer, I think, is a way of directing your thoughts/motivations/feelings away from our self, which is a good thing because it encourages us to be less selfish.[
    I'm not so sure about that. Since, as far as I'm concerned, there is no help other than human, whether it is sorting ourselves out with or without the help of others, or trying to help others, it is perhaps shelving responsibility somewhat by not making it entirely a talk to self.,
    It can be encouraging and heartwarming to be told you are being prayed for. Unless, of course, you know that someone is praying for a change that you don’t want!
    A dear friend, who died quite a few years ago now, used to worry about my not having a faith belief, particularly in view of my lack of belief in anything after death. she also used to hope I didn't mind her saying, 'God bless,' whenever we parted after our regular meetings. But I'd known her for nearly 60 years, and we had both lived through many experiences by then, so of course that was okay by me.

  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    I'm turning off computer now - back at crack of dawn to morrow!
  • JapesJapes Shipmate
    @Miffy, I too am relieved prayer is not a Dead Horse.

    There very often are no words in my prayers, or rather in the times I put aside for prayer. But I know if I have or have not prayed.

    Practically, when I do use words of my own if during the intercessions when I'm leading them. I'm told they are helpful for prayer kind of words and it's even more helpful that I leave silences for people to add their own (silently as, on the whole, most of my congregation are not public out-loud pray-ers. They are, however, firmly committed candle lighters and practical people. They most definitely pray.).

    I'm far more likely, if inclined to words, to use the Daily Office and the Bible reading for the day as the basis of my prayer.

    Unless, of course, I'm having a good rant... then my own words do very nicely.

    As far as I am concerned my practical actions most regularly comes out of what can seem inexplicable time set aside for God.
  • I believe that prayer is the time we spend aligning our will to God's, a time when we can hold our worries and cares into the loving living light, be still and listen for answers.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited May 2019
    I've told friends to email me or write and that I will pray what they send and do. Out loud. Which reminds me I gotta pray for the beggar outside the Co-op as he asked. So I just did. That feels better! As it will when answered!!
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    When I was a deacon and a believer and a regular church-goer, the part of our worship services that really, really got me down were the public prayer requests.

    These endless-seeming 20-minute sessions of begging God to heal X's cancer, bring Y to religion, "help" Z in some unspecified, and on and on, made me want to scream. Never once did I ever hear a petition on behalf of the pray-er, e.g., "Dear God, please give me the patience to sit through all these demands we're making of the Cosmic Vending Machine we seem to have replaced You with." Never once did I ever hear any request for self-improvement, i.e., "Dear God, is there some way You could help me become less of an entitled snot?"

    I grant you, as these were often the prayers running through my own mind, I did not utter them aloud. But if practical prayer were ever to exist, that's the model I'd go for.

  • RossweisseRossweisse Hell Host, 8th Day Host
    I believe that prayer is the time we spend aligning our will to God's, a time when we can hold our worries and cares into the loving living light, be still and listen for answers.
    Thank you, and amen.

  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I just don't think about the mechanism of prayer very much. I don't speculate much on the nature of God. I know what I know, and the rest is unknowable IMHO in this life. What I know is rooted in the salvific experience I had 20 years ago. It gives me the confidence to say that God is love and I owe God for reorienting me towards a place where I help other people. I feel like that's God using me. At the moment when I pray on a good day, I sort of meditate, just sitting quietly and saying the Jesus Prayer. I might have something in my mind that I'm intentionally praying about, or I might not. I don't need or expect an answer or response.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Japes wrote: »
    @Miffy, I too am relieved prayer is not a Dead Horse.
    I thought it might be as it is a subject without a definitive beginning or end!
    There very often are no words in my prayers, or rather in the times I put aside for prayer. But I know if I have or have not prayed.
    Do you think and/or believe that the prayers you have thought and/or said will have an effect other than on your personal thoughts and actions?
    Practically, when I do use words of my own if during the intercessions when I'm leading them. I'm told they are helpful for prayer kind of words and it's even more helpful that I leave silences for people to add their own (silently as, on the whole, most of my congregation are not public out-loud pray-ers. They are, however, firmly committed candle lighters and practical people. They most definitely pray.).
    Do you think there is, then, an assumption that their prayers (in whatever form) are being heard or received by, wel, God?
    I'm far more likely, if inclined to words, to use the Daily Office and the Bible reading for the day as the basis of my prayer.

    Unless, of course, I'm having a good rant... then my own words do very nicely.

    As far as I am concerned my practical actions most regularly comes out of what can seem inexplicable time set aside for God.
    Thank you - most interesting.

  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Ohher wrote: »
    When I was a deacon and a believer and a regular church-goer, the part of our worship services that really, really got me down were the public prayer requests.

    These endless-seeming 20-minute sessions of begging God to heal X's cancer, bring Y to religion, "help" Z in some unspecified, and on and on, made me want to scream. Never once did I ever hear a petition on behalf of the pray-er, e.g., "Dear God, please give me the patience to sit through all these demands we're making of the Cosmic Vending Machine we seem to have replaced You with."
    Good point - perhaps the world is so accustomed to instant communication now that for many God can be thought of that way too!
    Never once did I ever hear any request for self-improvement, i.e., "Dear God, is there some way You could help me become less of an entitled snot?"

    I grant you, as these were often the prayers running through my own mind, I did not utter them aloud. But if practical prayer were ever to exist, that's the model I'd go for.
    With the use of the word 'practical', I was also thinking of the whether and how often there is in the thoughts of those who pray an impartial consideration of the process of prayer. Does it go somewhere, or, ingeneral, is that taken for granted?

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    You know the answer. Never do I hear a public prayer that acknowledges the fact that God cannot intervene, ever, except ineffably 'by the Spirit', yearning passively, immanently alongside us, in us for us to be His hands, feet, ears, voices and wallets.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    You know the answer. Never do I hear a public prayer that acknowledges the fact that God cannot intervene, ever, except ineffably 'by the Spirit', yearning passively, immanently alongside us, in us for us to be His hands, feet, ears, voices and wallets.
    Your posts much appreciated as always. Like others, I don't always understand what you mean, but that doesn't matter, it's the communication which countss!.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    He zens His best wishes...
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Set prayers are nice for me as they connect me with the Communion of Saints (ie Everybody). Anything "set" that I pray has been prayed by so many people in so many situations as well as in every possible combination of belief/doubt/fear/hope.
    So it's like a sharp piece of rock now smoothed to a pebble in a flowing stream. So there is "a place" for me on that surface.
    I don't often feel "one of the crowd" but I do when I pray set prayers.

    Btw, Prayers don't have to go anywhere - they just are
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I am very poor at praying. My prayer time each day adds up to about thirty seconds. I even find it hard to join the prayer thread here - I don’t want to pray for stuff I don’t believe will happen. I don’t think God ‘answers’ prayer. I think God just ‘is’.

    This is due to my faith being such a thin thread. I find it hard to see the point. But, when in church and ‘forced’ to pray I feel better for it (less self centred).
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Galilit wrote: »
    Set prayers are nice for me as they connect me with the Communion of Saints (ie Everybody). Anything "set" that I pray has been prayed by so many people in so many situations as well as in every possible combination of belief/doubt/fear/hope.
    So it's like a sharp piece of rock now smoothed to a pebble in a flowing stream. So there is "a place" for me on that surface.
    I don't often feel "one of the crowd" but I do when I pray set prayers.

    Btw, Prayers don't have to go anywhere - they just are
    I do like the way you put things. I wonder whether there is a slow, almost imperceptible, overall, background move towards a greater realisation of your last point? especially in view of the mor rapid and noticeable increase in the body of (factual) knowledge.

  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    He zens His best wishes...


    :tongue: :lol:
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    : ) I told Him just now, on the dunny, He puts us through a lot of meaningless pain, assuming He is, but it obviously can't be helped, there is no alternative to Him looking like He's not there. This keeps going through my head.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    The way I see it, God knows me completely. He knows what I want and need far better than I do, and before I've been able to begin to articulate it. Prayer is focusing myself on God, so I can be more aware of this, and more aware of God's presence and perspective.

    I don't think in words. However, putting things into words is a way that I can process them more consciously and externally, and express them to people around me. Words are a translation of the inner to the outer, a way for humans to externalise and share their inner worlds, as we generally need to work together, communicate, etc. Words are a poor translation, but we generally get by, and some are better at it than others. God doesn't need words for us to communicate with him, but sometimes maybe we do, as social beings in community, to share our experiences with each other and put the divine and indescribable into some kind of format that we can process and communicate.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    edited May 2019
    In the New Testament Jesus gave his disciples what we now call The Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how to pray. Given that it starts “Our Father in heaven” he seemed to think prayer goes to God.
    If we see prayer as talking with God then he stops being a Father Christmas type figure who gives us what we pray for.
    I pray through dance often. As the leader of the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain I should do it more. As stated up thread words are the only way to pray.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Fineline

    Very thoughtful, as always. I wonder if you can say in words where you think the God who knows you – and I presume you think knows similarly all others, whether believers or not – is; although you may well see this in image form.
    I do agree about the communication aspects you speak of.

    Hugal

    Yes, the idea of heaven has always been ‘up’, but it has had to change, since we know what ‘up’ consists of!
    Yes, I think there can’t be large numbers of people who still imagine God as being a gift-bringer.

    I have had a look at the dance fellowship web page – I did not know there was such a group. I am of course very much an advocate for dancing and would do as many other forms, apart from tap, if I could. How do you think the faith belief of the dancers (is this a requirement, by the way?) affects the dance itself, or is it confined to the thoughts of the dancers
  • amyboamybo Shipmate
    Boogie wrote: »
    Prayer, I think, is a way of directing your thoughts/motivations/feelings away from our self, which is a good thing because it encourages us to be less selfish.

    Absolutely! I meditate, and I differentiate the from prayer as prayer focuses outward on God. It really helps me feel more connected to the world around me. Thank you for the reminder, Boogie!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    SusanDoris, as humans in the world, we live within the confines of time and place. I don't see any reason why the same would apply to God though. I don't see God as residing in a particular space. I see it more in terms of God being present, which is vague and has more meanings than simply location, but in practical terms it means God is with me, and with others - whatever that presence may consist of. I suppose I see it more as a spiritual presence. And one which I cannot fully understand, because I am living within time and space.

    To give a bit of a simplistic illustration, perhaps it is not too dissimilar to how I see you as being present in this thread, SusanDoris. I believe, from what you've posted in the past, that you're in the UK, but you could be in Australia or Canada, and it would make no difference. Where you are physically is not relevant. You are not living near enough me to be in shouting distance, but you are communicating with me and others here, and that is your presence in this thread. As this is human communication, we are using words and screens, but that doesn't mean you are living in the screen.

    Also, from having read a few of the spiritual classics, I haven't found that the idea of heaven has always been 'up', as a physical place that God resides, up above us. Spiritual thinking, going back centuries, often tends not to be so concrete and literal. Many have seen God's presence as being with us - The Practice of the Presence of God is one such example. The idea of 'up' can be metaphorical - the idea that God is vaster than we can imagine, a step above what our human brains can grasp.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Fineline

    I would imagine that there are not many believers (in God() who have an image of God and that a majority view is probably similar to yours. I wonder if anyone has any useful info on that, especially as images are an essential part of modern life.



  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    He's a very, very big four dimensional sofa.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    He's a very, very big four dimensional sofa.

    :smiley:
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    SusanDoris wrote: »
    Fineline

    I would imagine that there are not many believers (in God() who have an image of God and that a majority view is probably similar to yours. I wonder if anyone has any useful info on that, especially as images are an essential part of modern life.

    I was not aware of talking about images, and whether people have images of God. With regard to images, do you think that visualising a location for God is an essential part of it? I visualise you, SusanDoris, but I don't visualise your location. I visualise you interacting with Synthetic Dave, and what I visualise is probably quite different from the reality, but that is not important, and I'm aware it's just an image of my imagination. Which could be the case for many who visualise God. Plenty find icons and art depicting God useful, but I would imagine most don't see these as actual pictures of what God looks like. More a case of using human senses to draw closer to the indescribable. Symbolism, maybe.

  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    : ) I told Him just now, on the dunny, He puts us through a lot of meaningless pain, assuming He is, but it obviously can't be helped, there is no alternative to Him looking like He's not there. This keeps going through my head.

    This is going through my head.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    SusanDoris wrote: »
    Fineline

    I would imagine that there are not many believers (in God() who have an image of God and that a majority view is probably similar to yours. I wonder if anyone has any useful info on that, especially as images are an essential part of modern life.

    I was not aware of talking about images, and whether people have images of God.
    Yes, that was an assumption of mine because you seem to be a person with really good visual imagination.
    With regard to images, do you think that visualising a location for God is an essential part of it? I visualise you, SusanDoris, but I don't visualise your location. I visualise you interacting with Synthetic Dave, and what I visualise is probably quite different from the reality, but that is not important, and I'm aware it's just an image of my imagination. Which could be the case for many who visualise God. Plenty find icons and art depicting God useful, but I would imagine most don't see these as actual pictures of what God looks like. More a case of using human senses to draw closer to the indescribable. Symbolism, maybe.
    No, I do not think images are neededCertainly they used not to be for me. Interesting iea about Synthetic Dave! As it is only a voice in my ears, I do not visualise anything further!

  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    In the New Testament Jesus gave his disciples what we now call The Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how to pray. Given that it starts “Our Father in heaven” he seemed to think prayer goes to God.
    If we see prayer as talking with God then he stops being a Father Christmas type figure who gives us what we pray for.
    I pray through dance often. As the leader of the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain I should do it more. As stated up thread words are the only way to pray.

    To clarify I meant words are not the only way to pray
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    That does make a lot more sense in context.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    SusanDoris wrote: »
    Fineline

    Very thoughtful, as always. I wonder if you can say in words where you think the God who knows you – and I presume you think knows similarly all others, whether believers or not – is; although you may well see this in image form.
    I do agree about the communication aspects you speak of.

    Hugal

    Yes, the idea of heaven has always been ‘up’, but it has had to change, since we know what ‘up’ consists of!
    Yes, I think there can’t be large numbers of people who still imagine God as being a gift-bringer.

    I have had a look at the dance fellowship web page – I did not know there was such a group. I am of course very much an advocate for dancing and would do as many other forms, apart from tap, if I could. How do you think the faith belief of the dancers (is this a requirement, by the way?) affects the dance itself, or is it confined to the thoughts of the dancers

    As it is a Christian Fellowship then having a Christian faith is part of membership. If I join a golf club I would be expected to play golf. That said workshops and other events are open to everyone. Just understand it is a Christian based event.
    As to the dancers’ thoughts. It depends on what the dance is for. Thought, music, the theme of an event all contribute. In individual worship dance it doesn’t have to. It can just be an expression. It is possible to almost bypass the thought and express what is inside without really understanding it yourself.
  • Interestingly, I hadn't noticed the 'not' wasn't there when I read Hugal's post the first time. Just shows that we see what we expect to see when reading.

    I'd assumed that's what he was saying.

    I think the dance thing is interesting. There are certain gestures and postures in mime or in dance forms like ballet that convey meaning or emotion of course. Other movements will be entirely 'abstract' as it were, yet still, I'd imagine, conveying a mood or impression.

    One could be quite mechanistic or anthropomorphic in approaching this. How does it 'work'? Does God pick up a heavenly pair of opera glasses and settle down in a plush seat in 'the gods' to watch?

    Does he boogie on down or two-step to the tango? Do Father, Son and Holy Spirit link arms for the reel or take their partners for the Gay Gordon's?

    Of course, it defies categorisation and the placing of things in neat boxes - physically or metaphorically.

    Are Catholics really saying that they lock God away in a cupboard each evening? Do charismatics believe that God 'watches' their worship and thinks, 'Hey, I like the way Debbie and Charlie are worshipping today, they are both entering into it more fully than they did last week ...'?

    Do Quakers think that God collects up all their thoughts after their 'Meeting for worship' and sifts through them to find those which were most prayerful?

    When Hugal dances is there a celestial panel with Christ, archangels and Saints pressing buttons to indicate scores Strictly style?

    No, of course not.

    It was Ascension Day yesterday. Are we to see that in 1st century cosmological terms with Christ disappearing into a cloud with just his feet showing as in those charmingly naive medieval illustrations?

    Or are we to heed the words of the angel, 'Why look ye into heaven? He is gone into Galilee / Goa / Georgia / Galloway / Glasgow / Garside / Gilwern / Grantchester ....'

    'Tarry in Jerusalem / Jericho / Johannesburg / Japan and pray as you are and who you are and He will come to you.' (Gamma Gamaliel paraphrase)
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited May 2019
    Images -- you mean like Orthodox icons, or Catholic statues? We have a number of icons of Jesus of course but it is frowned upon trying to make icons of God the Father since nobody has ever seen Him. The old man with the white beard thing is what most people who have a mental image of the Father have in mind, I think. I think it's bunk for the reason given.
    Ohher wrote: »
    These endless-seeming 20-minute sessions of begging God to heal X's cancer, bring Y to religion, "help" Z in some unspecified, and on and on, made me want to scream. Never once did I ever hear a petition on behalf of the pray-er, e.g., "Dear God, please give me the patience to sit through all these demands we're making of the Cosmic Vending Machine we seem to have replaced You with." Never once did I ever hear any request for self-improvement, i.e., "Dear God, is there some way You could help me become less of an entitled snot?"

    So you're saying you wanted people's prayers to be more selfish rather than less selfish? I mean, if I'm praying for God to heal Mrs. Franklin's lumbago, then for that brief moment I have stopped thinking about myself, and am thinking about somebody else, and wishing them well. That seems an admirable exercise, whether our prayers "go" anywhere or not.
  • I think what many of us struggle with is an observed tendency of intercessions turning into an itemised, detailed shopping list full of instructions to God, which are then left to God to solve. For example an instruction to heal Mrs Franklin's lumbago so she can continue her ministry of making the teas.

    I would prefer to pray for Mrs Franklin as name on the intercessions by asking God, silently, in my thoughts, what support she needs? is she getting it? what else could be provided? And does someone else need to volunteer to make the teas rather than continue to put this on the obviously unwell Mrs Franklin? Possibly followed up by a conversation with Mrs Franklin after church to ask how she is and is everything OK?
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    In the New Testament Jesus gave his disciples what we now call The Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how to pray. Given that it starts “Our Father in heaven” he seemed to think prayer goes to God.
    If we see prayer as talking with God then he stops being a Father Christmas type figure who gives us what we pray for.
    I pray through dance often. As the leader of the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain I should do it more. As stated up thread words are the only way to pray.

    To clarify I meant words are not the only way to pray
    As that is evidently so, I wonder whether it would be useful to ask what actually is prayer and praing. It is something I never do, although I did when young, but I know that does not make me any less thoughtful and considerate etc.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    The definition of prayer I like is communicating with God. A two way conversation. If we follow The Lord’s Prayer as guide then petition is part of it. So praying for Mrs Jones’ bad back is fine. Prayer can be anyway you want. Traditional, meditation. Speaking in tongues (controversial on here I know but it is an example of something people use), art, dance. God can understand it all. What ever suites you best.
  • Unless I am with someone and I might pray out loud for them, I find words limiting. Also I generally have no idea what the will of God is for any situation and probably wouldn't be able to find words too. But over the last 20 years I have found I can pray by picturing the person or situation and visualising a pair of hands and putting the person/ situation into God's hands. I don't like words at times.

    As to what this might accomplish - I don't know. I decide to believe that there is some point to it, beyond the benefit of spending a few minutes on things other than myself.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I think what many of us struggle with is an observed tendency of intercessions turning into an itemised, detailed shopping list full of instructions to God, which are then left to God to solve. For example an instruction to heal Mrs Franklin's lumbago so she can continue her ministry of making the teas.

    I would prefer to pray for Mrs Franklin as name on the intercessions by asking God, silently, in my thoughts, what support she needs? is she getting it? what else could be provided? And does someone else need to volunteer to make the teas rather than continue to put this on the obviously unwell Mrs Franklin? Possibly followed up by a conversation with Mrs Franklin after church to ask how she is and is everything OK?

    Yes, I agree with this. When people tell me very specific things they want me to pray that God will do for them or for someone else, I tend to pray more vaguely for these people, because I see it that God knows best what they need. Though I know some people don’t like this, because they want me to trust that they know exactly what God wants for them, and they want specific prayer or nothing. I’m particularly uncomfortable with the ‘Please pray that this person changes their mind and does what I know is the right thing to do’ type prayers. as it seems often based on very controlling motives.

    My difficulty is that when people request that I pray such things, I talk to them about my reservations, and they get offended. But it feels dishonest to agree to pray something very specific that I know I won’t pray, because I don’t see God as a magic genie, there to fulfil our every whim.

    And, regarding Ohher’s point, I frequently pray that God will transform me into the person he created me to be, and to see things more from his perspective, which seems to me more inclusive, positive and holistic than simply asking God to help me, say, not be an entitled snot. I wouldn’t ask that on a public prayer list, though, because it’s broad and universal - it’s something I pray for anyone and everyone when I pray for them, and which I think underpins any intercession, because to me it’s the best thing to pray for anyone. Prayer lists are more for specific situations in people’s lives.

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