Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do-It-Yourself, Answering Your Own Prayer

Have you ever had the same thing/idea/theme come up repeatedly over a short period of time in your life?  And the repetition gets you thinking, "Lord, are you trying to tell me something?!" 

In the past couple of weeks, I keep coming across similar references to prayer in different sources.  So, as a continual effort to share what I've been given, I wanted to share these overlapping sentiments with you. The statements are simple and straightforward, but the implications are far-reaching.

I don't want to be the reason God can't answer my prayer!  I'm sure you don't either, so here's the gist, according to William Barclay* in A Book of Everyday Prayers:

1.  Be honest in prayer.  "Don't lie to God." (Luther) "We cannot pray for that which we do not desire with our whole hearts.  If there is something which we know we ought to desire, and we do not desire it, then our first step must not be to pray for it; that would be dishonest; but to confess that the holy desire is not there, and to ask God by His Spirit to put it there."

2.  We must be very definite in prayer and there can be no real prayer without self-examination.

3.  God cannot grant a selfish request.  Anything that we do necessarily affects other people.

4.  God will not do for us that which we can do for ourselves.  Prayer is the cooperation of our effort with the grace of God. 

~"There is little point in praying to be enabled to overcome some temptation, and then in flirting with that temptation, in playing with fire, and in putting oneself in the very position in which the temptation can exert all its fascination." 

~"There is little point in praying for our home and for our loved ones, and in going on being as selfish and inconsiderate as we have been." 

~"There is little point in praying that the sorrowing may be comforted and the lonely cheered, unless we ourselves set out to bring comfort and cheer to the sad and the neglected in our own sphere."

~"Prayer would be an evil rather than a blessing, if it were only a way of getting God to do what we ourselves will not make the effort to do."

Prayer is not primarily a means of escape, it is a means of conquest.  "Prayer does not normally promise or achieve release from some situation; it brings power and endurance to meet and to overcome that situation."

In a brief Wikipedia search on William Barclay, I learned that he was a minister, skeptical concerning the Trinity, a universalist, and a pacifist. I don't know much else about him, nor generally align my beliefs with his, but I believe what he says here regarding prayer.

Several days after reading William Barclay's thoughts on prayer, I read this in a daily Magnificat meditation:

"You say, 'he hasn't worked the miracle.' 'he hasn't given me the courage I need.'  Well the answer usually is: 'you  have not given him anything to work the miracle with.'  Of course, he can do some miracles without, but usually he asks us to give something, and if the miracle you ask is personal transubstantiation - that you may be changed into him - then clearly, unless you offer yourself - all of yourself - he can't do it, for what has he got to change?" - Caryll Houselander

Dear Creator and Redeemer,  Thank you for people who teach us how to talk to and relate to You.  Thank you for gentle reminders that get us back on track with a broader perspective of prayer and our role in it.  Lord, help me to "show up", but get out of the way, too.  I give you the desires of my heart.  For the things that You will for my life that I do not yet desire, please give me the desire.  For the things that I desire that have no place in my life, please remove them.  Lord, I am too short-sighted to even know what I am asking, but You know, and I trust in You.  Amen.


  1. Hey Jessica! You're welcome for writing. It is a great outlet and I appreciate your comments! I'm happy just to write for myself in a notebook, but in this case, I'm glad to know I'm not just writing for myself!