Citrusdal | Clanwilliam | Graafwater | Kompas Gemeente Vredendal | Somerset-Wes

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the humble.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:1-10) 

Word Meaning: 

H6419. פָּלַל pālal: A verb meaning to pray, to intercede. This is the most common Hebrew word used to describe the general act of prayer (Jer. 29:7). It was often used to describe prayer offered in a time of distress, such as: Hannah’s prayer for a son (1 Sam. 1:10, 12); Elisha’s prayer for the dead boy (2 Kgs. 4:33); Heze-kiah’s prayer for protection and health (2 Kgs. 19:15; 20:2); and Jonah’s prayer from the fish (Jon. 2:1[2]).

In some contexts, this word described a specific intercession of one person praying to the Lord for another, such as Abraham for Abimelech (Gen. 20:7, 17); Moses and Samuel for Israel (Num. 11:2; 21:7; 1 Sam. 7:5); the man of God for the king (1 Kgs. 13:6); or Ezra and Daniel for Israel’s sins (Ezra 10:1; Dan. 9:4, 20). This prayer of intercession could also be made to a false god (Isa. 44:17; 45:14).

Jewish Perspective 

The Mishnah uses an unusual term, “mav’eh” (מבעה), to describe humans, defining them as ‘the creature that prays.‘ This concept stems from the Hebrew root “ניא” (nya), which means to pray, as elaborated in the Talmud (Bava Kamma 2a, 3b). It implies that prayer is an inherent aspect of human nature, integral to our essence. Even those who are not devout or believers engage in prayer-like reflections, expressing their core values and deepest desires. The Talmud illustrates this with the example of a burglar who prays for success while committing a crime (Berachos 63b in Ein Yaakov), highlighting the paradox of seeking divine aid to carry out sinful acts.

Prayer transcends simple requests; it is an introspective and refining process aimed at self-improvement and spiritual growth. The Torah portrays prayer as a “service of the heart” (Tanis 2a), emphasizing the transformative power of sincere self-reflection over mere spoken words.

Additionally, prayer is depicted as a judicial process of discernment and decision-making. The Hebrew root “בה” (bo) used in “tefillah” (תפילה) relates to judgment, suggesting that prayer involves separating trivial concerns from genuine priorities (Siddur Avodas HaLev). This reflective process helps clarify one’s life purpose, increasing one’s worthiness of divine blessings.

Prayer is distinctly human, merging intelligence, imagination, and the capacity for articulate speech. The creation story in Genesis 2:7 describes man becoming a “speaking spirit” (נשמת חיים מדברת), as translated by Onkelos, indicating that intelligent speech is crucial for praising God and articulating spiritual insights.

The role of communal prayer is exemplified by R’ Yishmael Kohen Gadol, who prayed for collective mercy, aiming for the sanctification of God’s name through the well-being of the community. Personal prayers, too, are viewed not merely as self-serving but as aligning with divine concern, as taught in Midrash Tanchuma (Acharei). This perspective sees individual prayers as pleas that also resonate with God’s empathy for human struggles.[1]

Inner Silent Prayer of the Heart 

Madame Jeanne Guyon’s “Short Method of Prayer” represents a distinctive approach to spirituality within the Christian tradition, particularly differing from the structured prayers of the Catholic Church. Her method emphasized an intimate, internalized form of prayer that focused on silent contemplation and the surrender of the soul to God, rather than on verbal recitations or the use of formal prayer books such as the rosary or Hail Marys.

Guyon’s approach was grounded in the concept of “quietism,” a form of mysticism that advocated for a passive and contemplative prayer experience aimed at achieving a spiritual union with God through the heart’s simple turn inward. This method encourages believers to move beyond the mechanical recitation of prayers and to enter a deeper, more personal engagement with the divine presence. Key to her method was the idea that prayer did not require extensive time or preparation but could be short and simple, accessible at any moment.

What set her method apart from traditional Catholic practices was its emphasis on the effortless ascent of the soul towards God, relying less on structured prayers and more on the silent, loving focus of the mind and heart on God. This was in contrast to the more active, vocal, and ritualized forms of prayer typical in Catholicism, which often involved specific words, phrases, and sequences.

Her teachings, however, were controversial and led to accusations of heresy, as her views diverged significantly from the orthodox practices and theological frameworks of the Catholic Church of her time. Her works suggest a spirituality that is personal and direct, an approach that prioritizes the internal experience of God’s presence over external forms and practices.[2]

Connected Hearts

Dr. Roy Grey’s approach to prayer, as outlined in his book “Power Prayer,” emphasizes a deep, personal, and direct connection with God that goes beyond traditional formalities. Here are the key elements of his essence on how to pray:

Personal Connection: Grey advocates for an understanding of prayer as a personal dialogue with God, where one expresses their deepest desires and concerns directly to Him, rather than through rote or ritualistic prayers.

Prayer as a Way of Life: He suggests that prayer should not be confined to specific times or formulas but integrated into daily life as a continuous dialogue with God. This includes recognizing prayer as a natural response to life’s challenges and opportunities, making it as natural as breathing.

Emotional Honesty: Grey emphasizes the importance of being honest and open in prayer, expressing true feelings, fears, and desires without holding back. This sincerity is crucial for a genuine relationship with God.

Spiritual Intimacy: His method promotes developing a closer, more intimate relationship with God, where prayer serves as a means to understand and align with God’s will more deeply.

Transformative Purpose: Prayer, according to Grey, is not just about requesting things from God but is a transformative process that changes the individual, aligning them more closely with God’s purposes and character.

Jesus’ Example 

JesusAPPROACH to prayer was distinct in several ways, emphasizing:

  • intimacy with God
  • sincerity
  • the alignment of personal desires with God’s will.

He both taught and modeled prayer, providing a profound example for His followers.

KEY ELEMENTS of Jesus’ way of prayer and the scriptures where he explained and modeled these principles:

Intimacy and Reverence: Jesus addressed God as “Father,” which shows a deep personal relationship while maintaining reverence. He taught this approach in the Lord’s Prayer.

  • The Lord’s Prayer starts with “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matthew 6:9-13), emphasizing both closeness and reverence.
  • Similar instance of the Lord’s Prayer, highlighting the familial relationship with God. (Luke 11:2-4).

Persistence in Prayer: Jesus emphasized the importance of persistent, persevering prayer.

  • The Parable of the Persistent Widow teaches persistence in prayer. (Luke 18:1-8).
  • The Parable of the Friend at Midnight, which encourages persistence and boldness in prayer. (Luke 11:5-10).

Prayer for God’s Will: Jesus’ prayers often focused on the submission to God’s will, rather than personal desires.

  • Matthew 26:39: In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays, “not as I will, but as you will,” demonstrating submission to God’s will even in great distress.
  • Luke 22:42: Similar instance where Jesus submits to God’s will in prayer.

Solitude in Prayer: Jesus sought solitude for prayer, showing the importance of private, undistracted communication with God.

  • Mark 1:35: Jesus went to a solitary place early in the morning to pray.
  • Luke 5:16: Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Prayer Before Important Decisions: Jesus prayed before making significant decisions or before important events.

  • Luke 6:12-13: Before choosing the Twelve Apostles, Jesus spent the night praying to God.

Thankfulness in Prayer: Jesus often expressed gratitude in His prayers, setting an example of acknowledging God’s provision and sovereignty.

  • Matthew 11:25: Jesus thanks the Father for revealing truths to the humble and not to the wise and learned.
  • John 11:41-42: Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus thanks God for hearing Him.

Teaching about Prayer’s Purpose: Jesus taught that prayer should not be for show but a private communion with God.

  • Matthew 6:5-6: Jesus instructs to pray in private, not for the approval of others.

Prayer as Proclamation 

We align our thoughts and words with God’s will and Word through prayer.  Moreover, we receive instructions on what to do.  Thoughts, words, and actions lines up and becomes one straight line of intend and purpose.  

[1] The Complete Artscroll Siddur. Rabbi Nosson Scherman & Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz 

[2] Guyon, Jean. (n.d.). A Short Method of Prayer. [Original work published 1685]