Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Prayer
Volume 7 No. 432 August 25, 2017
III. Featured: Prayer

Prayer as Daily Dialogue with God - The Best Way to Change a Day

by Mel Lawrenz

Many believers say they pray best when prayer is a continual dialogue with God during the course of the day. As one person put it: "I do not often pray for 15 minutes straight, but hardly ever does 15 minutes pass without me praying." This is obviously not the kind of prayer where someone is down on his knees in a quiet room of his house. It is, rather, the idea that one can say a sentence or two to God anytime, anywhere, out loud or silently.

Done many times over during the course of a day, this develops in us a steady heart-openness to God. It allows one to respond to God at the moment one sees any special act or blessing from God. It is to ask God questions during the day, the whole day, about what you're seeing, the decisions you're making, your choice of words before they come out of your mouth.

It may look something like this:

As you wake and that first rush of thoughts come into your head about what you'll be doing that day, say to God: thank you for the chance to rest and to start again. Please help me see you in this day and to please you by who I am today.

You shower and, as you relax, all kinds of thoughts pop into your head. Some worries, some regrets, some ideas. Tell God: I trust this to you, God. Teach me how to leave these concerns in your hands. Help me know what I should do.

You take 15 or 20 minutes in a quiet part of the house to read a chapter or two in the Bible, saying first to God: "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path." Take a few quiet moments to mediate on what you've read, and then talk to God about your response, thanking him for a truth you found there, telling him what you don't understand, confessing where you sense you are coming up short.

As you make your morning drive thoughts of your work start emerging in your mind. Tell God: This meeting concerns me. Help me figure out what is going on here. Help me to believe in your presence throughout this day.

You're in a tense and tricky phone conversation. You have to decide what to say and when to hold your tongue. You pray silently: Lord, give me the right words.

You choose to have a light and brief lunch so that you can take a good walk. You get some fresh air, you have a chance to clear your head, and every so often you say something aloud or silently to God. You respond to the thoughts he brings to you with whatever is appropriate: thanks, praise, confession, or petition.

Again, during the afternoon, you cast a silent or verbal sentence to God during many situations. In one sense, it is like having your best friend next to you, and you're discussing the unfolding of the day in a natural and engaging way. In another sense, however, you keep in the front of your mind that this is the Lord of heaven and earth you are talking to and you welcome the sense of reverential awe that brings.

A quiet moment before supper is a good moment for heartfelt thanks.

The end of the day is a chance to say, before you nod off to sleep: dear God, help me to learn from what I experienced today. Thanks for the opportunity to live this day before you. Here is what I regret… here is what I'm glad about… Please recharge me with rest.

Praying with Fervency

by John MacArthur

"I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Dan. 9:3).

The more you understand God's holiness, the more you'll recognize your own sinfulness.

People view prayer differently. For some it is a last resort after all human options have been exhausted: "All I can do now is pray for you!" Others liken it to a spiritual spare tire - something used only in the event of an emergency. Many who should thrive on prayer have been lulled into complacency by an affluent and godless society.

Daniel, however, saw prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart to the God he loved and served. In Daniel 9:3 he says, "I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him." That implies he set apart a specific time to devote to thoughtful, earnest, and fervent prayer. That is further supported by the way he prepared himself through fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes - symbols of humility and deep contrition over sin.

It might seem unusual for a man of Daniel's spiritual stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, but the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his sinfulness. We see that in Paul, who called himself the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That might seem like a ridiculous statement to us but Paul saw sin for what it was. So did Daniel.

The title "Lord God" in verse 3 emphasizes God's sovereign rule over all things. Daniel knew that God had permitted the Babylonian Captivity and that He alone could deliver His people from it. Consequently, Daniel gave the Lord his undivided attention as he prayed and sought mercy for himself and his people.

Daniel's fervency is a rebuke to much of the flippancy we hear in prayer today. It was profound because it was generated by God's Word and grounded in His will.

James 5:16 says, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (KJV). Be like Daniel - a righteous person who prays fervently with great effect.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you a greater sense of fervency in prayer. Be sensitive to any sin that might be hindering your prayers.

For Further Study

Read Luke 11:5-13.

What parable did Jesus tell to illustrate the benefits of humble, persistent prayer? How did Jesus contrast earthly fathers with their heavenly Father?

Source: Grace to

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.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Practices of Prayer

by Msgr. Charles Pope

Today's readings speak to us of the power of persistent prayer. The first reading (Exodus 17:8-13) in particular depicts prayer quite powerfully. In it, we can discern six fundamental teachings on prayer.

I. The Problem for Prayer

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. None of us like problems, but one good thing about them is that they help to keep us praying. Israel was at war and their enemies were strong; it was time to pray.

In today's Gospel concerns a widow who is troubled about something; this problem keeps her coming back to the judge. Sometimes God allows us to have problems in order to keep us praying. Problems also keep us humble and remind us of our need for God and others.

Problems aren't the only reason we pray, but they are one important motivator. It shouldn't be necessary for us to have problems before we pray, but if we're honest we'll probably admit that they certainly have a way of summoning us to prayer.

II. The Priority of Prayer

Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, "Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.

Notice that Joshua and the army did not go forth until after Moses took up his position of prayer. Prayer ought to precede any major decision or action.

We often rush into things without praying. We should begin each day with prayer. Important decisions should also elicit prayer from us. Prayer needs to come first; it has priority over.

Too many people use prayer as a kind of rear-guard action through which they ask God to clean up the messes they've made. We end up doing a lot of things we shouldn't because we didn't pray first. We also end up doing a lot of things poorly that prayer might have clarified or enriched.

Prayer isn't just about asking for this or that specific thing. Prayer involves an ongoing relationship with God, through which we gradually begin to receive a new mind and heart, and our vision and priorities are clarified and purified. The new mind and heart that we receive through prayer and the study of our faith are an essential part of the prayer that precedes decisions and actions.

III. The Power of Prayer

As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.

As long as Moses prayed, Israel got the better of the battle, but when fatigue caused his prayer to diminish, Israel began to lose.

Prayer changes things. Here in this world, we may never fully know how our prayers helped to change history, but I am sure that one of the joys of Heaven will be to see what a difference our prayers, even the distracted and poor ones, made. In Heaven, we'll tell stories of prayer's power and will be able to appreciate the difference it made for us and for others. For now, much of this is hidden from our eyes, but one day, we'll see with a glorious vision what prayer accomplished.

I suppose, too, that one of the pangs of purgatory might be to see how our failure to pray had negative effects, and how it was only God's mercy that overruled our laziness.

In this passage, Moses struggles to pray; so do we. Remembering prayer's power is an important motivator to keep us on our knees and at our beads. Pray!

IV. The Partnership of Prayer

Moses' hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other.

Moses knew that because of his fatigue, he needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur. They all prayed together and, once again, Israel was strengthened and regained the upper hand.

Prayer is not supposed to be merely a solitary experience. While personal prayer is important, so is communal and group prayer. The Lord says, Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt 18:20). He also says, Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matt 18:19).

Hence, we are taught to gather in prayer liturgically and also to find partners for prayer. Because prayer is so essential and we are individually so weak, we ought not have it all depend on us. We need our own Aaron and Hur to support us in prayer and to help make up for our weakness.

Do you have some spiritual friends who help you, not only to pray but also to walk uprightly? Scripture says, Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. … where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:10,12).

Do not pray or journey alone. Find some spiritual friends to accompany you.

V. The Persistence of Prayer

So that [Moses] hands remained steady till sunset.

With Aaron and Hur to help him, Moses prayed right through until sunset. They prayed right up to the end— and so must we. There is a mystery as to why God sometimes makes us wait; pray on anyway. We may get frustrated by the delay; pray on anyway. We may get fatigued or even lose heart; pray on anyway. Like Moses, we should get friends to help us, be we must pray on. Pray, pray, pray!

Be like the woman in today's Gospel, who just kept coming to that judge until he rendered justice for her. I have brought people back into the Church long after the spouse or mother who prayed for them has died. Keep praying until sunset.

VI. The Product of Prayer

And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

The text says that the enemies of Israel were utterly defeated. This shows the product and the power of persistent prayer.

We may not fully see the results of prayer on this side of the veil, but on glory's side one day we will. We may not need God to mow down a foreign enemy, but how about enemies like fear, poverty, illness, and sin? Yes, we have enemies and God answers prayers. Pray and then wait for the product of prayer.

So there you have it, six practices and teachings on prayer.

Source: Archdiocese of Washington Blog

How to Teach Your Children to Pray

by Melissa Spoelstra

"Lord, I just thank you for this wonderful day today, and I pray we'd have a wonderful day tomorrow. Amen."

This typical bedtime prayer was repeated often when I tucked my children into bed at night. After several nights in a row, I asked them if they had anything else they wanted to talk to God about. If I made suggestions, they were very open to adding them, but rarely initiated deeper conversation with their Maker.

I contemplated that perhaps they needed training when it came to prayer. We certainly spend a lot of time teaching them how to put their clothes away, the toothpaste cap back on, and saying please and thank you. Scripture supports this idea of learning to pray. The disciples said in Luke 1:11b, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

Jesus then proceeded to teach them the Lord's prayer. This model prayer includes several elements. As a teen I learned at church camp the acrostic A-C-T-S which is taken from the basics found within the Lord's prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. These are big words for my 5 year old daughter, twin 8 year olds, and 11 year old son. I asked God to help me teach them to pray in a way that would go deeper than their surface prayers for a good day, but at the same time not be insincere, fancy words they repeated with little understanding. We tried to break it down this way:


How could they praise God each day in a way that wouldn't get rote or mechanical? I got a piece of construction paper, and we spent one night brainstorming things about God that were good. Powerful, Loving, Awesome, Holy. They had fun coming up with words about God. Then I asked them some of the names for God found in the Bible. With a little coaxing they thought of: Rock, Shepherd, Jesus, King of Kings. Soon we had filled the page with different ideas. I bought a cute white frame and hung the list up in their room. At bedtime they could each pick one of the things on the list to begin their prayer.


This part turned out to be the most surprising. None of them could recall any bad thing they had done that day. I was floored. I had a long list for each of them fresh on my mind. I tried to hold back as long as I could. I turned to one of them, "What about hitting your sister today?" "Oh, yeah." Then on to the next child, "Remember how you threw that fit and got in trouble this morning?" "I had forgotten about that." They were all very willing to confess their sins to God and even excited that they had something for this part of prayer. They just needed some training and direction.


This one comes most naturally when children pray. They were always grateful for the "wonderful day." Now we tried to be more specific. What are we thankful for? Yes, we had trips to the park, friends over, and new toys to thank God about. However, we talked about some basic things that we often take for granted. Freedom to worship, our own copy of God's Word, clean water, food, eyes to see, legs to run. Their tender hearts were telling their Creator that they had much to appreciate. They don't always remember these blessings in day to day life when surrounded by ads and commercials tempting them to want more. However, at night when their hearts are soft, they often recognize God's provision when a loving parent reminds them of all He has done.


Big word. I told them we were basically just asking God for things. We can ask for things we need or want, but we also want to pray for others. A friend of mine shared a great system that she used to help her kids remember what they were praying for each day. We made another poster for the wall that looked like this:

Monday - Missionaries. Here we wrote the name of two specific families we know and support. We prayed for their children and tried to remember to share any details about their families we got in regular prayer updates in their emails or letters.

Tuesday - Teachers. Each child prayed for their own school teacher. We also put the names of their piano teacher, Sunday school teacher, or coaches. If they didn't know what to pray, we asked God to give their teachers wisdom and endurance.

Wednesday - Widows and orphans. We prayed for specific ones we knew. We prayed for Great-Grandma, a woman at church, and for little Alex and Robelina who we support through an organization that provides opportunities to sponsor needy children. Our son got to meet Alex last year on a mission trip to Guatemala. It was incredible for him to meet the boy we had prayed for on so many Wednesdays.

Thursday - Those who don't know Jesus personally. Each child had plenty of people who were school friends, neighbors, or extended family members that they hope they will get to see in heaven one day. It made the celebration that much sweeter when we saw a Japanese family we had been praying for in our neighborhood come to know Christ.

Friday - Friends and Family. We listed out the cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and each child picked one or two special friends. Living in Ohio with my family in Texas and my husband's family in Canada, praying for family helps my kids feel more connected with people they may only get to see once a year.

After we implemented our new approach to prayer, we found our kids' prayer lives growing stronger. It wasn't a perfect system. However, they are learning that prayer is talking with God about anything and everything. They are remembering who He is, where they fall short, what they are thankful for, and asking for God's help for others. Even without looking at the lists on the wall, we've moved past talking generically about a "wonderful day" to deeper connection with Christ. We're still working on that toothpaste cap though.

About The Author:

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women's conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of several Bible studies and Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home.


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