The Purpose of Prayer

I have added a new chapter, among other changes, to the revised version of “Treat Gently, This Gentle Man: A Daughter’s Prayers,” to be released next week through Amazon.com. I offer this chapter on my blog for feedback. Do my perspectives on prayer ring true for you? Is there more that I should be saying? I trust you, my readers, with this intimate portrait of prayer.

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission

The Purpose of Prayer

Psalm 145:18

The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely.

At some point in each of our lives, regardless of religious conviction, we have had challenges so dire, so out of our control, that we know we are powerless. And we pleaded for God’s help. Yet when we have been extraordinarily blessed, most of us have also given thanks. In other words, we have prayed.

I have given hours of thought to the purpose of prayer, especially since so many prayers seem to go unanswered, at least from my experience. “Help me trust your will,” the prayer on the previous page pleads. What did I expect? A sudden feeling of peace and a total lack of doubt? Frankly, yes, that is what I wanted. I didn’t get it.

I have realized, however, that praying to get something is different than praying to understand something. I’m not saying that we can’t ask God to intercede in our lives. I believe that God wants us to come to him with our concerns, but requests, yes even pleading, are only a part of our relationship with God.

In the past year of putting my prayers on paper, I realized that I received the most comfort from using prayer to communicate not only what I needed and wanted but to also tell God, my most trusted ally, about my fears, my confusion, and my doubts.

An anonymous poem illustrates the next step: letting go.

As children bring their broken toys,
With tears, for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because He was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him
In peace, to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help,
With ways that were my own.

At last, I snatched them back
And cried, ”How can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never did let go!”

God wants a relationship with us, and a relationship has two directions. I speak, you listen. You speak, I listen. In rich discourse, let us not forget that listening is more than hearing; it is taking in what is being said and considering the words not only from our own viewpoint but what those words mean to the person who spoke them.
So when we pray, are we hanging on to our words with God and not handing them over to trust our true needs for Him to know?  The very act of praying gives us the freedom to get to the very center of our relationship with God. Are we trusting enough to have an honest conversation?

Heavenly Father, I want to remember to have a conversation with you. As with my closest friends, encourage me to ask for help, thank you for my blessings, and to remember others in need. You are lovingly listening to me. May I hear Your words also.

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About Patti Albaugh

I grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1965. I have a Bachelor's Degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. I am an Emeritus Professor at Otterbein University. In addition to writing creative nonfiction and fiction, I like genealogy, gardening, travel and Mah Jjong. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, with my dog Tonto. I am the proud parent of children Justin and Amy and granddaughters Katherine and Zoe.
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3 Responses to The Purpose of Prayer

  1. Charli Jackson says:

    Patti,
    I think this will be a good addition to “Treat Gently, This Gentle Man: A Daughter’s Prayers”
    Well said.
    Charli

  2. barbara zientek says:

    great insight to God and his ways. Thanks for reminding us how God works with us.

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