Apr 1, 2014

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MEDITATION: The gift of prayer

MEDITATION: The gift of prayer

Some years ago, at a Christian conference, there was, as one would imagine, a lot of time set aside for prayer. This did not refer only to your own quiet time with God, but if called upon to do so, it also meant praying aloud in the assembled company of believers.

After one of these sessions, an old friend of mine (himself pastor to a large flock), was very quiet. When I asked him about his silence, he blurted out: I find it difficult to pray in public. It seems I did not receive the gift of prayer! He seemed so embarrassed, and it seemed to have taken so much courage to make this confession, that I could not help teasing him a little.

In his letter to the Romans, I said, Paul does not mention prayer as a gift at all.  If I remember correctly, he writes of the gifts of prophecy and of service, of teaching, encouragement, generosity, of leadership and mercy.  But not a word about prayer.

You are quoting to tease, said my friend. Paul also exhorts the Romans to be faithful in prayer.  In fact, he commends them to unceasing prayer.  And I do not have the gift for it.  It seems to me as if there is a ceiling to my prayers, and I have no words to get past that ceiling to reach the ear of God. He suddenly sounded so forlorn that I regretted my earlier, light-hearted approach.

You are an honest man and a good pastor, I said.  And you have the fruit of the Spirit – love and joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Is that not a comfort?

But he refused my comfort. There is so much that is hurtful in the world, he said, so much agony, and so much of it is reflected in my congregation.  And I?  I have no words.  My lips cannot form the prayers with which to reach the Father’s heart, and my lips cannot find the phrases to plead for God’s intercession.

That, I said, Paul explains quite clearly, and it is only your distress that keeps you from understanding it: We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself  intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Allow the Spirit to pray for you, I said. And be prepared to wait.  God has his own time in these things. And because he is an old friend and I am allowed to tease him a little, I added :  You are much blessed with the fruit of the Spirit, perhaps the only one you lack is patience!

Cecile Cilliers

  1. I always doubt if he sprit is with me when i pray, I keep on pray with the hope that God is always giving ne an eye when i am talking to Him, indeed its working He reply.
    what i do nreaaly to understand is how to meditate and hoe does it work.

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