Friday, June 19, 2009

Real Prayer

"Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer." --François Fénelon

I find it ironic that there are so many books out there on prayer these days. It is ironic because many Christians will tell you that they don't pray enough or that they don't know how to pray. I think this is due in large part to a misunderstanding of what it means to pray.

Let me offer a brief disclaimer or two before I expound on that last thought.

Disclaimer #1: Many of the books on prayer that are out there are exceptional. A favorite of mine is Richard Foster's Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. As with many of his books, Foster is quick to quote the saints and other great giants of the faith through the ages. I also enjoy just about anything by E.M. Bounds as he has much to say on the matter. Another favorite of mine is The Meaning of Prayer by great preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick. I picked up a tattered copy of this book (for $1!) simply because I liked the title. It has become a treasure to me. Fosdick offers insights about prayer and prayers of the saints throughout. There are countless others that I have been exposed to through my love of the saints and spiritual formation. Suffice it to say that many of the resources on prayer that are out there are worth your time.

Disclaimer #2: No book out there will teach you how to pray. In fact, I'd be leery of any book that say that it could. There are a fair share of formulas out there, some more useful than others. But no formula will teach you how to pray. Prayer is deeply personal and different for everyone. Let that last thought soak in and you will be liberated!

Well, since it seems my disclaimers took up much of the blog, I think I'll save my further thoughts on prayer for the next post. What's already written is enough to think about for the weekend, don't you think?

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