The power of prayer
Thoughts on the Practice of Prayer
Illustration: "Give us today our daily bread.«
»If your son asks for bread, which of you will give him a stone when his son asks him?
How much more good will your Heavenly Father give to those who ask him?«
(Mt 7: 9-11) | © Protected image material
1. The power of prayer
It is the fifth Sunday after Easter, right before Ascension Day. This Sunday is called "Rogate" in the calendar. That is Latin and means "Pray!" - a strange name for a Sunday, especially for a Christian Sunday!
Is there a need for a reminder for Christians to pray? Does it take a day to focus on prayer? A celebration that teaches us how to pray? Obviously.
Pray - Well then! Let's just follow this invitation! If not now then when? What are we risking? Actually nothing. What does it cost us, apart from a few minutes of time that we would probably hardly have used better otherwise?
But wait! It's not that simple after all!
Praying - how does it actually work? There are completely different ideas about what makes a "good" prayer, right? After all, it should also work, not be useless. But how do you do that? How do you do that so that it works?
Aren't there any instructions for doing this? Some kind of instruction manual? A user guide? The power of prayer is said to be enormous! In any case, one hears and reads every now and then.
The power of prayer! That sounds a bit like kitsch, fantasy novels and "May the force be with you!" - it would be nice if it existed. Or not?
When was the last time you prayed? Do you know how to do it?
Do You Know the Power of Prayer?
2. A workshop for prayer
A workshop - why is that? In fact, every Christian should have learned to pray from childhood. Actually, every Protestant Christian should have been instructed in confirmation class at the latest and have experienced for himself how to pray correctly and what needs to be taken into account. And actually every Christian should be convinced of the power of prayer. Not just out of faith, but based on personal experience. Actually.
We believe, however, that it is appropriate and helpful at this point to say a few words about prayer.
We can tell you how to do it. We can write it down here. But what use are words! So let's turn it into a workshop. With a practical exercise part. You can get involved and check what works and what doesn't. So we tell you how to do it - in theory! - and they try it out, very practical. Take the few minutes - it costs next to nothing except time.
1. The preparation
What do you need for that? Not much. Secret prayer is the complete form of communication. Dialogue with God requires neither mediators, such as priests or pastors, nor special places or rooms, such as places of pilgrimage, temples, churches or chapels. Aids such as holy books, prayer books, crucifixes, relics or prayer wreaths are superfluous. Altars and sacrifices of any kind are also completely unnecessary.
Prayer works because of the honesty with which it is spoken and meant. It does not depend on the words, but on trust in the mercy of God and in the relationship that is lived with him. Talking is one thing, doing something else.
Also repeating the same prayer over and over is not useful or necessary. Therefore, rosaries or even prayer wheels are superfluous.
So it is not about talking a lot and chattering more or less clever, possibly somehow religious sentences, but rather what you did before the prayer and what you want to do afterwards. Only then can prayers work.
How is that to be understood? We'll see that in a moment. But first, let's take a look at the instructions on how to pray.
2. The instructions for praying
You had already guessed correctly: there is such a thing as a guide to praying. Jesus gave simple and clear instructions on how to pray. We find you in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 6). Nothing else to do.
Now it is time to familiarize yourself with the "Instructions". Let's look at what Jesus said about prayer. Read the following short text from the Gospel of Matthew. It consists of three parts:
- In the first part we learn Basic information about prayer. We learn how Not should be made and how to do it right.
- In the second part stands the prayer that includes everythingwhat should be said in prayer. We don't need any more.
- In the third part we learn the basic requirement for successful prayerthat is often suppressed. But it is she who ensures that prayers work. In general terms, this part says: Act according to your own requests!
This is the critical aspect of praying. It is largely unknown because it is too seldom mentioned and interpreted in church services. The right place for this would be shortly before the Lord's Prayer Proprium.
And because it is not paid enough attention to, the belief arises that spoken prayer alone is sufficient. If it doesn't work then you will be very disappointed! Belief in the power of prayer is waning.
The Gospel of Matthew
6 5 When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites because they like to pray when they're in churches and on the street corners so that people will hear. I tell you: you have already received your wages. That's how it is. 6But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your God, your Father, in this seclusion. And your father, who can see you in isolation, will reward you.
7 Therefore, when you pray, do not babble like the Gentiles, for they think that if they utter many words, they will be heard.
8 Just don't do it like her. Your father knows what you need before he asks.
9 This is how you should pray:
Our Heavenly Father
Blessed be your name,
10 your kingdom come
your will will happen
as in heaven, so on earth.
11 Our daily bread Give us today.
12 And forgive us our debts
just as we have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14For if you forgive people their wrongdoings, your heavenly Father will forgive you too.
15 But if you do not forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoings either.
3. The condition for successful prayer
3.1 Asking forgiveness presupposes forgiveness
In connection with the practice of prayer, Jesus pointed out the importance of our own actions to the success of our prayers. The key role is played by »Forgiveness" a. As in real life: A good relationship should be free of reproaches and feelings of guilt. Also the relationship between you and God.
However - that's how Jesus explains it! -, Forgiveness can only be obtained by oneself has forgiven! Please note the tense in this expression: perfect, perfect present. No chatter and no good intentions help, especially not hypocritical ones: we have to be honest and forgive ourselves before praying with the request for forgiveness to have, to get forgiveness.
This is tricky! Do you have anything to forgive someone? And have you already forgiven? If not: it's never too late! Do it now!
But please don't forget the honest intention behind it. The power and effectiveness of prayer are not stimulated and achieved through rituals, but through the honesty of our relationship with God and with our fellow human beings.
But how do you do that so close to prayer?
You don't have to go to each person individually and tell them personally that you forgive them. You can do that, and it would certainly make sense and be good in some cases. Pronunciations can help clarify things in relationships. But you don't have to.
It is enough if you bring people and the respective situations into your mind's eye and honestly forgive them. That means: awarded sustainably and permanently.The next time you meet these people, or even just in your thoughts about these people, you shouldn't add anything. It's taken.
3.2 Forgiveness takes a great deal of effort
Yes, it will take some effort! Possibly a lot of overcoming. For example, a workplace incident might raise the question: "Am I really ready to forgive and forgive my work colleague for his cheeky, sneaky and scheming behavior?"- You probably won't be able to do it. Not now, not right now.
But forgiveness can be practiced. If you have no experience with this, the first thing you need to do is learn how to do it, what it feels like, and how it affects you.
Therefore, do not start with dramatic events, but choose situations that are less of a burden to you yourself.
For example, whether it applies to you or not, your partner has lied to you about a minor matter. You have noticed and are annoyed about it. Would accusations now be an adequate means? Would that promote the relationship because it creates clarity? Try to forgive, without reproach. Pronounced or in silence, the only important thing is that it should no longer weigh on your attitude in the relationship with your partner.
We could cite many more examples, after all, we all live more or less closely with numerous people, and there are always small and large conflicts: in families, among friends, among acquaintances, among neighbors, in clubs, in schools and at work or simply at the meat counter and at the checkout in the supermarket.
You have certainly had many experiences in which you felt lied to, insulted, held back, not valued, treated unfairly and attacked. First select only one small incident, no more than two, from the narrower group of people. Finally, you must also have an opportunity to learn how it feels and how it will affect the next time you meet that person. How it works in you and in the relationship. Also, or especially when it is no longer discussed.
Yes, forgiveness is difficult! But we can only encourage you to try. You want your prayer to work, don't you?
All done? Are you ready?
4. The internship
Then we come to the practical part. So find a quiet, secluded place. A room, a space in which you are undisturbed. Nobody need or should notice that you are about to pray.
Relax. Make yourself comfortable. It is not necessary to adopt any particular posture. You don't have to do anything. You don't have to kneel, lie on the floor, or fold your hands. You can do it if you like. But you don't have to. Adopt a posture that seems natural, natural and relaxed to you. You should feel comfortable doing it.
Just just relax and try to forget about the world around you. You should really be undisturbed and not let anything bother you. Only for two or three minutes.
When you are ready, start praying. At first, do not try to enrich your prayer with your own sentences or wishes. Just say the sentences that Jesus recommended to us. It contains everything you need to have a successful conversation with God. More is really not necessary. Everything else that moves you is implied in it.
Say the prayer out loud and listen to yourself.
5. The evaluation
And now: be critical of yourself! Take for a moment the role of the recipient to whom these words were addressed. How did that sound Was that honest? Would you like the one who spoke - that is, yourself! - take off what he was saying? Do you think he meant that seriously?
If not: At what point did it sound less or not at all convincing? Once you have identified this passage (or several), you may be able to give your speaker a few helpful tips: What must he do to make his prayer sound honest and convincing? Give him the necessary Recommendations for action! And give it a second chance. Or a third party. - It doesn't have to be the same. Maybe tonight or tomorrow or next week.
1. The importance of requests in prayer
You have now seen that prayer consists of two parts. The actual prayer and doing around it or between two prayers. Something always happens there. That cannot be avoided at all.
But some of what is happening may become meaningful in prayer. We had already thought about forgiveness. But forgiveness alone is not enough.
Jesus' declaration in Matthew 6: 14-15 is an example of all requests, even if the request for forgiveness may be particularly heavy.
Here are a few examples of requests that appear in prayer and what they require:
- Anyone who asks for "bread" in prayer must be ready to give "bread" to those who ask!
- He who asks for peace in prayer must be peaceful himself.
- Those who pray for health must be ready to help the sick themselves.
- Those who ask for comfort in prayer must be ready to comfort themselves.
As you can see, it's ultimately about: Act according to your own requests!
What would your biggest requests be?
The request for daily bread in the Lord's Prayer will now be examined in more detail by way of example. How is it related to our everyday life and to our very personal needs?
2. The importance of asking for daily bread
Our daily bread Give us today
We pray the line "Our daily bread Give us today". You may be wondering what God has to do with it. After all, you go to work, make money, and buy yourself whatever groceries you need. Or your partner makes the money. Or your parents. Or you receive a pension, unemployment benefit or social assistance. But: is it all so natural?
As retirees, we worked hard for a long time. Our pension system now allows us to retire. Even if it may not be much: retirees get money without having to continue working.
Even the unemployed and the socially disadvantaged do not fall completely flat. Everything is scarce and there is little money, but there is bread. Nobody starves to death.
We protect the rights of employees by law. Slavery, slave labor and exploitation are outlawed. Laws and interest groups negotiate even the wages to be paid. There is wage for work.
These are achievements of our society that are by no means taken for granted. Many millions of people in this world suffer examples of how things can be different.
Nor is it a given to have a job. You have it, but you can lose it very quickly. Also in our state.
"Our daily bread Give us today" reminds us that it is not a matter of course to be full every day. The generations before us and we ourselves fought for it, and in political disputes we have to stand up again and again to ensure that our social network does not tear. Pensions, unemployment benefits, social assistance and minimum wages are always put to the test when the belt is tightened or political power games are played.
We have to make sure that we keep our jobs every day. As long as possible. Fewer and fewer people expect to stay in their jobs until they reach retirement age. More and more young people are switching from successfully completed training and courses directly to unemployment.
It is the fight for fewer and fewer jobs, many of which no longer even contribute the necessary income. More and more people have two or three smaller jobs at the same time. Even retirees have long been dependent on it to make a living.
All of this is exhausting and requires strength. The fear of social decline is making more and more people sick. It is good when we are clear about this and ask for strength. Because it can hit us.
"Our daily bread Give us today" means: Be aware that you have to stand up for it. It is just not a matter of course. It doesn't fall from the sky either.
You have to be able to look after yourself, but also for others. We have to advocate that our social network becomes more solid and tightly meshed. There, where it has become weak and full of holes, one can and should become active oneself and spin a tiny thread, which for some other, needy fellow human being "Our daily bread Give us today" means. Such threads could be donations, but also active participation in a small, regionally set up aid organization. There may also be organizations and associations in your area that could use your help.
"Our daily bread Give us today" In addition, means the concrete request and hope that we ourselves do not get into trouble and plop through a cracked hole in the network. And if they do, then may someone be there who spins a thread that carries us. It can hit anyone.
We have no guarantees that we will glide through life unscathed. And just as we hope and depend on help and support ourselves when things go wrong, we can help and support ourselves where help is needed for a fellow human being.
Which aspects in "Our daily bread Give us today" are important to you personally, only you know that. These very aspects will resonate very clearly in your prayer if you take prayer seriously. It is not an empty phrase.It is your intimate conversation with God in which only one thing matters: you yourself.
1. Find out the meaning of the requests and act
As you can see, the first part of our workshop is easy to practice. You just pray. But don't forget the second part! Depending on how you design it, this exercise can stretch over long periods of time. Maybe for the rest of your life.
We have tried to use the example of forgiveness and the example of asking for daily bread to show what meaning prayers can have. Perhaps you now feel like thinking about the other sentences in the Lord's Prayer. Perhaps you will find out for yourself what these requests may mean for you and for your coexistence with those around you.
And then - but only then! -, you will be able to enrich your prayer with your own very personal formulations of requests, wishes and expressions of thanks.
This is because you only then have experienced and knowwhich requests make sense. You then also know which requests and wishes may seem great at first glance, but are completely nonsensical because, for example, they only mean your benefit without considering your fellow men and possibly even harm them. You then learned what you have to thank for, from a gratitude for something to which you contributed little or nothing, where others contributed a lot, often invisibly and as a matter of course.
But none of this makes sense if you do not follow your own requests in prayer!
If, for example, you ask for God's blessing for this food and for the table community at dinner, then you should take it seriously so that it is not empty words and no "chatter". You should treat nature and food with respect. You should be respectful of those who made the production of the food and ready meals possible through their work. You should be grateful for your living conditions, because not everyone can sit in front of full plates while eating. You should show respect to those who eat with you. And those whom you may have something to forgive ...
Show respect, appreciate, be grateful - not through words, but expressed through your behavior, through your actions. This action is motivated by your own requests, and it is primarily for you!
2. The power of prayer is within you
Yes, it all sounds complicated! You can expect a lot of commitment from you. You even have to be able to jump over your own shadow. And you have to stay tuned. Don't just talk, act!
But maybe that's exactly why many don't believe in the power of prayer: They don't take prayer seriously. You can't find out how it works.
We cannot guarantee it, but if you try to follow these brief instructions that we have given here, then you too may well come to the conclusion: Prayer is not only good, it helps. Very concrete, very practical, and it works!
Prayer unfolds its power where people are serious about prayer.
The power of prayer - it is in you too!
- Note -
Our small series "pauses in thought" is a collection of different texts for in between on questions and topics from society, church and religion. It might be worth taking a look:
Overview: pauses in thought
Small breaks for new or rethinking thoughts.
Here we have put together selected articles that were created for various contributions to our website.
You might also be interested in:
Evangelical practice: prayers
The article contains an overview of the prayers available from us in tabular form. You can also find prayers for every day of the week.
In addition, the purpose of prayer is explained in a small treatise. It explains the importance of trust in one's relationship with God. It shows why it can be useful and important to design prayers beyond given texts for a very personal dialogue with God.
Prayer texts (overview)
Our overview refers to the prayer texts and prayer collections that are currently available on our website. In a little treatise, we explain what is important in prayer.
The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is the most important prayer for all Christians. It suits every occasion. In this article we show the Lord's Prayer in the modern version and based on the Luther Bible of 1545.
The Lord's Prayer
Matthew 6: 9-15 | Luther Bible 1545
Our father in the himel /
Hallowed be your name ...
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