I think that prayer will need several posts – so I will start today with a few stories!
One of our retired clergy tells the story of how, when doing an infant school assembly he asked the children what they thought prayer was. One little boy put his hand up and said: “when God talks to us in our head”. My colleague was blown away.
Then there is the time a journalist asked Mother Teresa about prayer
Journalist: “Mother Teresa, you believe in God so I guess you must pray regularly.”
Mother Teresa: “Yes, of course.”
Journalist : “And what do you ask God when you pray?”
Mother Teresa : “When I pray, I ask nothing”
Journalist: “But what do you do then?”
Mother Teresa: “I listen”
Journalist: “And what does God say to you?”
Mother Teresa: “Nothing. He listens too.”
There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next.
Finally Mother Teresa breaks the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”
Metropolitan Anthony writes in School for Prayer about how as a young priest he visited an old woman and when she asked him how to pray he didn’t know what to do, but told her to knit (this is the very short version, the longer version can be found here [pdf]).
Martin Luther is famous for commenting, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” We must learn to see prayer as the most powerful and efficient use of your time.
I have been told a story about someone who started a new job, and found above their desk a sign that said: “Prayer changes things”. They didn’t feel comfortable with this, but weren’t sure what to do, so left it for a while as they pondered. Eventually they got out a pen and changed the sign to say: “Prayer changes me, I change things”.
Make of these what you will!