Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
St. Mary
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
(Luke 1:50)

Ettu Nombu Special
Day 5, Theme: Prayer
Volume 6 No. 369 September 5, 2016

Featured Articles

Introduction to Prayer

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

When we examine the Public Ministry of Jesus, the first thing that jumps out to us is the prayer life of Jesus. Jesus took time out to go to a quiet place to pray to His Father. Even on the last day prior to getting arrested in the Garden of Gethsamene, Jesus communed with His father. He also taught his disciples how to pray.

He also prayed for his present and future disciples in a prayer known as "The High Priestly Prayer", often described as the greatest prayer ever prayed. It is described in John 17:1-26. This prayer should act as a model for us to emulate. A careful examination of it reveals that it has three main divisions:

1. Jesus prays for Himself - Jn 17:1-5
2. Jesus prays for His disciples - Jn 17:6-19
3. Jesus prays for all believers - Jn 17:20-26

Saint Mary was a woman of prayer from her childhood. She was brought up in the Temple and participated in all prayers. We certainly can learn a lot about prayer from Jesus and from Mary.

Pope John Paul explained why Saint Mary is a Model for our church,

"In replying to the angel: 'Let it be to me according to your word' (Lk 1:38) and in stating her readiness to fulfil perfectly the Lord's will, Mary rightly shares in the beatitude proclaimed by Jesus: 'Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!' (Lk 11:28).

With this attitude, which encompasses her entire life, the Blessed Virgin indicates the high road of listening to the Word of the Lord, an essential element of worship, which has become typical of the Christian liturgy. Her example shows us that worship does not primarily consist in expressing human thoughts and feelings, but in listening to the divine Word in order to know it, assimilate it and put it into practice in daily life. ..."

Pope John Paul continued,

"Mary represents the model of the Church at prayer. In all probability Mary was absorbed in prayer when the angel Gabriel came to her house in Nazareth and greeted her. This prayerful setting certainly supported the Blessed Virgin in her reply to the angel and in her generous assent to the mystery of the Incarnation.

In the Annunciation scene, artists have almost always depicted Mary in a prayerful attitude. This shows to the Church and every believer the atmosphere that should prevail during worship.

For the People of God Mary represents the model of every expression of their prayer life. In particular, she teaches Christians how to turn to God to ask for his help and support in the various circumstances of life. "

Saint Mother Teresa described prayer as conversation with God. It is a union with God. Mother explains,

Real prayer is in union with God, a union as vital as that of the vine to the branch, which is the illustration Jesus gives us in the Gospel of John. We need prayer. We need that union to produce good fruit. The fruit is what we produce with our hands, whether it be food, clothing, money, or something else. All of this is the fruit of our oneness with God. We need a life of prayer, of poverty, and of sacrifice to do it with love.

Sacrifice and prayer compliment each other. There is no prayer without sacrifice, and there is no sacrifice without prayer. Jesus' life was spent in intimate union with His Father as He passed thru this world. We need to do the same. Let's walk by His side. We need to give Christ a chance to make use of us, to be His Word and His Work, to share His food, and His clothing in the world today.

Surprisingly another Mother I respect quite a lot, the Late Mother M. Angelica, founder of EWTN shares similar feelings about prayer as Saint Mother Teresa. She called prayer as "Realizing God's Love for Me". Mother Angelica explained:

"The word "Prayer means many things to many people. To some it means asking for 'things'-for health or success. To others, it means repentance, imploring God's Mercy for their sins and infidelities. Prayer is Praise and Thanksgiving to many and to the majority it is a cry in times of distress.

Prayer is all these things, but it is more. It is Union of Love: God's Love and your love; it is an awareness of God's love for you - His personal love."

Prayer goes with Humility, Love and Faith, virtues we examined earlier. It is not one or other. We need all of them.

In this special edition of Malankara World Journal for the 5th day of the 8-day lent, we examine different aspects of prayer. More information is available by reading the references cited in the MWJ Archives.

Let us pray,

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us
O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us
O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.


Saint Mother Teresa On Prayer
[Editor's Note:

Pope Francis is scheduled to Canonize Mother Teresa to a Saint on September 4, 2016. What a great moment for all of us! No one knows the power of prayer like St. Mother Teresa. This is excerpted from her book, 'No Grater Love', Chapter 1.]

I don't think there is anyone who needs God's help and grace as much as I do. Sometimes I feel so helpless and weak. I think that is why God uses me. Because I cannot depend on my own strength, I rely on Him twenty-four hours a day. If the day had even more hours, then I would need His help and grace during those hours as well. All of us must cling to God through prayer.

My secret is very simple: I pray. Through prayer I become one in love with Christ. I realize that praying to Him is loving Him.

In reality, there is only one true prayer, only one substantial prayer: Christ Himself. There is only one voice that rises above the face of the earth: the voice of Christ. Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus.

Love to pray. Feel the need to pray often during the day. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God's gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep We want so much to pray properly and then we fail. We get discouraged and give up. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. God allows the failure but He does not want the discouragement. He wants us to be more childlike, more humble, more grateful in prayer, to remember we all belong to the mystical body of Christ, which is praying always.

We need to help each other in our prayers. Let us free our minds. Let's not pray long, drawn-out prayers, but let's pray short ones full of love. Let us pray on behalf of those who do not pray. Let us remember, if we want to be able to love, we must be able to pray!

Prayer that comes from the mind and heart is called mental prayer. We must never forget that we are bound toward perfection and should aim ceaselessly at it. The practice of daily mental prayer is necessary to reach that goal. Because it is the breath of life to our soul, holiness is impossible without it....

People are hungry for the Word of God that will give peace, that will give unity, that will give joy. But you can't give what you don't have. That's why it's necessary to deepen your life of prayer.

Be sincere in your prayers. Sincerity is humility, and you acquire humility only by accepting humiliations. All that has been said about humility is not enough to teach you humility. All that you have read about humility is not enough to teach you humility. You learn humility only by accepting humiliations. And you will meet humiliation all through your life. The greatest humiliation is to know that you are nothing. This you come to know when you face God in prayer.

Often a deep and fervent look at Christ is the best prayer: I look at Him and He looks at me. When you come face to face with God you cannot but know that you are nothing, that you have nothing....

Prayer Is Surrender

by Greg Laurie

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
- (1 John 5:14)

Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. God will only answer the request He inspires. You see, prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God. It's cooperation with His will.

You might be thinking, Then why even pray?

Because God wants us to be a part of the process. Here's how it works. God puts a burden on your heart. It may be for the salvation of someone, or it may be for some other thing. But when God puts a burden on your heart, you pray. And then you see God do the so-called impossible and answer that prayer.

"Man, I'm a powerful person of prayer," you might say.

No, you serve a powerful God. And you got in sync with him.

That is why we should pray for a spiritual awakening in our nation. When we pray for the gospel to go out and for people to believe in Jesus, I believe we are praying according to the will of God and that He will hear it. Why? Because the Bible says God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

We want to get in step with the will of God.

Having said that, there is also a place in prayer for our personal needs, because Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).

If I've contemplated the awesomeness of God and considered His will and purpose, if I've already surrendered my will to Him, asking for His purpose above my own, then it will have an effect on what I am praying for personally.

As I see how big God is, I will see how small my need is comparatively.

Copyright © 2016 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

How Simple Faith and Prayer Can Lead Others to the Lord

by John Stonestreet

In 9th grade, I was a knucklehead. Even worse, I was a Christian school knucklehead. Those are the worst kind. Six days a week, between that Christian school and the church that operated it, I was in the same building hearing the same Bible lessons, often from the same people. But I didn't really have much of a faith that I could call my own.

That all began to change on the last day of classes before Christmas break in December of 1990. Now we all know what's supposed to happen on the last day of classes before Christmas break: not much.

Well, that day, my Bible teacher announced that our boys Bible class was being sent out two by two to visit the elderly "shut-ins" of our church. I suppose the intention was to bring Christmas cheer, but as you might imagine, that's not what happened. The only thing we wanted to do less than school work on the last day of classes before Christmas break was visit old people we'd never met.

My only consolation was that I was paired with my friend Brian. He shared my disdain for the assignment we'd been given. "What are we going to do?" I asked. "I don't want to go see any old people."

"I've got an idea," Brian replied. "We'll go visit one person, but say that we couldn't find the other person's house. That way, we'll be done fast and can go to the mall."

And that's how I met Ms. Buckner. She lived down a windy, rural Virginia road in a small little apartment her grandson had built for her on the end of his farmhouse.

She invited us inside, and there we were: an 11th grader, a ninth grader, and an 89-year-old widow. We didn't have a lot in common.

Just when we thought it couldn't possibly get any more awkward, Ms. Buckner said, "Let's sing Christmas carols together." We stumbled our way through Silent Night, and then she decided one carol was enough.

"Well, Ms. Buckner," Brian said, "we'd best be on our way."

"Yes," I lied, "we still have one more person to visit before heading back to school."

And then she asked, "Can we pray together before you go?"

So I prayed, and Brian prayed - that took about 45 seconds. But then Ms. Buckner prayed.

At that point, I'd been in the church my whole life. I'd heard thousands of prayers. But I had never heard anything like this. I remember looking up just make sure that Jesus wasn't sitting next to her, because it sure sounded like He was. She spoke to God as if she knew Him, with a simultaneous confidence and humility that only comes when you're certain you're being heard.

We left her house and headed to the mall, distracted by our plan to meet some girls. But I do remember, however, Brian saying to me, "She's a cool old woman." And I agreed.

Two years later, I woke up with the strangest feeling. Typically, I'd wake up thinking about basketball or my girlfriend, but I woke up this particular morning thinking of Ms. Buckner. And to this day, I have no idea why.

But I ended up going back down that windy road to her house. "Ms. Buckner," I said, "you probably don't remember me, but two years ago I came here with my friend Brian. My name is John."

"John," she smiled. "I prayed for you this morning."

From that point on, Ms. Buckner became a close personal friend. In fact, she prayed for me every day for the rest of her life. To this day, I cannot imagine what she prayed me into or out of.

At age fourteen, I found myself - seemingly by chance - in the home of an 89-year-old woman I didn't know, and didn't particularly care to know. I didn't want to be there. I lied to her. And yet, God used her to alter the trajectory of my life. I found out later that she had actually impacted many, many others in that community as well.

That's what happens when you know Jesus, and treat others like the image-bearers that they are. God uses us, often in ways we can't even imagine.

Source: BreakPoint

About The Author:

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of 'Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.'

The First Ten Lessons I Learned about Prayer

by Dr. Joe McKeever

Disclaimer: I'm still a learner, and most definitely not an expert on praying.

1. The only real mistake we can make in prayer is in not praying.

If we pray earnestly, almost anything we do is better than not praying. After all, no father rejects the child's plea because she did not use the right words or form. He welcomes his child into his arms.

Someone has said, "Nothing never happens when we pray."

2. No matter how much you pray, you will never be completely satisfied with your prayer life.

You will always feel the goal is out there beyond you somewhere. We must work against perfectionism, that mental disease that convinces us because we're not doing something perfectly, that we should stop it altogether. No matter how ineffective you think your prayers are, believe that they matter to God and keep on praying.

3. The Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer.

Romans 8:26 assures us "He helps us in our weakness because we do not know how to pray." The Greek word translated "helps" is a compound Greek verb "synantilambanomai." The "syn" means "together, with us." The "anti" means "opposite to, in front of." And the "lambanomai" is a form of the verb "to lift." Together they tell us the Holy Spirit gets on the other end of our task, opposite to us, and together with us lifts the burden. He does not do this in our place, but works with us.

4. Keep on praying.

Persistence in prayer is taught so many times in Scripture. My favorite is blind Bartimaeus in Luke 18. Let nothing stop you from praying. Not your own inadequacy (of which there is much), your own needs (which can be overwhelming), not your fears (which never tire of assaulting you), and most definitely not other people (discouragement is all around us). Just keep at it.

5. Our emotions and feelings are irrelevant to effective praying.

We need to rescue our prayer life from bondage to our emotions. You know, "I don't feel like my prayers go beyond the ceiling," or "I don't feel like praying today." When you turn to the Father in prayer, how you feel has nothing to do with anything. Pray anyway.

6. Heaven places the same value on our prayers that we do.

If it matters to us, it matters to our Heavenly Father. The widow's mite did not mean much to anyone else in the Temple that day, but because it mattered a great deal to her, it was precious to the Father. This principle holds true for our prayers, our offerings, and anything else we give to the Lord: when it arrives in Heaven, it carries the same value there we placed on it here.

7. Throw away your clock.

Jesus said it's the heathen who think they will be heard for their much speaking. The goal in our prayertime is to be real, to touch Heaven, and not to log so much time. Think how insulted your sweetheart would be if you brought along a clock on your next visit, and you kept looking at it to see how much time had gone by so you could feel good about the investment you were making in the relationship. How much time you spend in prayer has little to do with anything. This assumes, of course, that you are spending some quality time with Him each day in prayer.

8. It's not necessary to know the will of God in order to ask for something.

Go ahead and ask for healing, for that new job, for this blessing, or that condition to change. What if it's not the will of God? Then, friend, He won't do it.

Do not think you are tying God's hands by your prayers. That's why Jesus ended His prayer in Gethsemane with "Not my will, but Thy will be done." He taught us to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

My job is to ask. It's the Father's place to sort things out and decide what He wishes to answer and grant.

9. There is a mystery involved whenever we come into the presence of God.

We are kneeling before the Almighty Sovereign God, Lord of the universe. Be quiet. Be still. Get alone with Him. Humble yourself. Wait on Him. Respect Him as having sense and quit insulting Him with your pet memorized phrases. Tell Him the truth, what you've been up to and what you're thinking now. Tell Him what blesses you about Him, and what areas of your life you need particular help with.

Jesus said He already knows our needs before we ask, but He likes to see if we have figured things out too. So, go ahead and make your requests to Him.

Whatever answer comes, accept that as His will, at least for the time being. And keep on praying.

10. Always keep paper and pen handy when you are praying.

My experience is that when you come into the Father's presence in prayer, He will frequently call your attention to something He wants you to know or do. He may tell you someone to see, something to do, someone to call, something to forgive, a verse to look up, a text to remember, a debt to pay, or a neighbor to help. Write it down. Then, go back to your prayer. Expect to receive from Him every time you turn to Him in prayer.

When I was a kid on the Alabama farm, times were hard and surprises were rare. But we were always glad when our uncle Johnny Chadwick drove up from Birmingham. He was a police officer with the city and was forever meeting interesting people, getting challenging ideas, and having things given to him. He would bring up day old cakes and pies from bakeries. He once brought me an old used bicycle, the first I'd ever owned. Once he arrived with a truckload of calves which it became my assignment to feed before and after school. He never came empty-handed. We were always eager to meet Uncle Johnny.

How much more when we come to pray, entering into the very presence of the loving Heavenly Father, should we be eager and expectant about what is about to happen.  

Prayer Overcomes All

by Dan Burke

The inestimable virtue of prayer is able to obtain all good, and remove all hurtful things.
- St Peter of Alcantara Ecstasy by Art Giclee

If thou wilt patiently endure adversity, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt overcome tribulation and temptations, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt trample upon thy perverse inclinations, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt know the deceits of Satan, and avoid them, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt live joyfully in the work of God, and trace the way of labor and affliction, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt exercise thyself in a spiritual course, and not walk according to the desires of the flesh, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt put to flight thy vain and trifling fancies, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt feast thy soul with holy thoughts, good desires, fervour, and devotion, be a man of prayer.

If thou wilt establish thy heart with a manly spirit, and constant purpose in the service of God, be a man of prayer.

To conclude,

If thou wilt root out vice, and be endued with virtues, be a man of prayer. In it is received the unction of the Holy Ghost, which teacheth all things.

Also, if thou wilt climb up to the top of contemplation, and enjoy the sweet embracings of thy beloved spouse, be a man of prayer. For by the exercise of prayer, we come to that contemplation and taste of heavenly things. Thou seest of what great power and virtue prayer is.

For the confirmation of all which, omitting the testimony of holy Scriptures, let this be an evident proof unto thee, that by daily experience, we hear and see illiterate and simple persons to have attained the aforesaid and greater things by the virtue of prayer.

Source: Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Restoring Power of Prayer

By Marcos A. Walker

I can still remember my feelings the time I saw tears of repentance streaming down the face of my 10-year-old son, Arián.

He had been playing with his older brother, Joel, who was 12, in the bedroom, when all of a sudden an argument broke out, and I had to intervene and reestablish order. Perhaps because of their ages, fighting had become frequent between the boys.

In response, Arián, who was visibly shaken and crying after his altercation with his brother, responded to me in an unacceptable manner. I corrected him twice (now his argument was with me), but the situation just got worse. He was out of control, red in the face, and shaking. My nerves were getting to me, but I knew that there had to be a solution without my starting to shout.

The principle of prayer quickly came to mind. Yes, that was the answer, and so I took him into my room, closed the door, and said, "Arián, let's kneel down, and I'm going to offer a prayer to Heavenly Father."

We both knelt down as his cries of fury continued. I prayed with the objective of trying to help my son. In the middle of the prayer I noticed that his sobs were dying down. The tears rolling down his cheeks were now tears of repentance.

As we concluded our prayer, Arián raised his eyes and asked, "Dad, can you forgive me?" We embraced, and I was not able to contain my own tears. Feelings of peace and love filled my soul. Arián said nothing more, but I knew that he had experienced the restoring power of prayer and that the Holy Ghost had penetrated his heart.

Now he not only knew about the power of prayer, but he had gained a testimony of it.

Source: Ensign, Jan. 2011

Malankara World Journal Specials on Prayer and 8-Day Lent
Malankara World Journal Issues with the Theme: Prayer
Volume 6 No 364 Aug 26 2016
Theme: Prayer

Volume 6 No 331 February 12 2016
Theme: Prayer, Love

Volume 5 No 301: August 21 2015
Theme: Prayer

Volume 4 No 233: August 22, 2014
Theme: Praying With Persistence

Volume 3 No 159: August 22, 2013
Theme: Prayer and Worship

Volume 2 No 106: Nov 1 2012
Theme: Prayer

Volume 2 No 99: Sep 20 2012
Theme: Unanswered Prayers

Volume 2 No 82: June 21 2012
Focus: Prayer

Volume 2 No 47: January 12 2012
Special on Prayer

Volume 1 No 20: August 26 2011
Focus: Prayer

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