Everybody Prays

a small thought…EVERYBODY PRAYS

An earlier thought, about talking to myself, suggests another. Prayer is a central element of the life of a Christian, or of any believer in a God that loves and listens to his children.

Prayer can have many different forms and purposes. We can pray our gratitude for something, or for everything.  We can pray for forgiveness for our sins.  Or we can pray for God to do something specific, for ourselves or others.

This last type of prayer, sometimes called intercession, is probably the most common and frequent, as is natural.  We all have a lot to be thankful for, but we all seem to have an even longer list of things that we want or need.

The prayer life of a believer is a way to address his needs, but it is also a need in itself.  A believer always feels better after prayer. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” says the book of Hebrews, 11:1.

But what about the unbeliever: the atheist, the agnostic, or simply the “None” who has no place in his life for religion or God?  Does he need prayer?

Here is the truth, so obvious that it is almost unthinkable.  Everybody prays. They just do it in different ways, some better than others, some worse than no prayer at all.  Whether it is intentional or unconscious,  praying is a natural human function, only one step above breathing.

“I hope I get over this cold quickly.”(A prayer of the sick.)

“I wish the kids would call more often.” (A parent’s prayer.)

“It would be great if the University could finally get a decent football coach.” (An alumnus’ prayer. See next prayer.)

“I hope this hurricane passes us by.” (A Floridian prayer.)

“Seven come eleven, baby needs a new pair of shoes.” (A crapshooter’s prayer for victory.)

Whether we call it praying or wishing or hoping or just wanting, we all pray all the time.  But believers do it better, because they know there is more to it. A hope or wish is an undirected arrow shot into the future.  A prayer is a direct request put forth in a personal conversation with the only being that can satisfy the request.

The believer also has a framework for making sure his request is a proper one and is made in the proper way.    The believer examines his request. “Lord, please let me win the lottery.”  Is this really something to ask God for?  Even if I promise to use the money to pay off my friends’ mortgages along with my own, and then give the rest to the church? Do I expect God to swallow that one?

“God, please let the Florida Gators beat Alabama this week.”  Is this something worth asking God for? Even if the Crimson Tide really needs a lesson in humility?

And finally, the believer, especially the Christian, knows how to judge his requests. We are taught to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, help me to conform my will to yours, to want what you want, to want what you want me to want.

Everybody prays. Believers just do it better.

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