"Prayer, Its Nature and Its Need,"

By Mrs. Bernice Schaefer, late Aunt to Ronald Ginther

Part I--Prayer is Breathing

I would like to share a few thoughts on prayer, touching upon its nature, how we are to pray, that is, are we to place demands on God? And, the need of Scriptural praying.

A hymnist wrote, "Prayer if the Christian's vital breath!" To state this more clearly we could say, "Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian's New Nature!" Romans 8:16 expresses this so well: "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit [the new nature] that we are the children of God."

Just as breathing is the sign and evidence of physical life, so prayer is the mark and sign of the possession of spiritual life. Natural life commences with breathing, and this produces a cry. It is so when new life from God is imparted to us, a cry goes forth, "Thank you, God, for having been merciful to me, a sinner." and "prayer" becomes a living reality, and the distant sinner becomes a saint of God

From that moment the breathing-prayer continues as the spontaneous outcome of the new life. No formal rules are required for the one breathing, nor for the other. No knowledge of physiology is required for the one, and no formal theological training is necessary for the other. If one thinks of "how shall I breathe?" one might become afraid of breathing altogether. So it is with the new nature and its praying. As soon as it becomes formal, legal, and designed, then its essence is gone.

Prayer is entering into a "closed" relationship with Gd, so we are not to pray so as to impress others by mechanical prayers. Spontaneous prayer from the heart may never be voiced with our lips, but it will not be artificial. Ours will not be a "prayer time" but a life in constant living communion with God irrespective of time or place or circumstances. This is what is meant by "...praying always", Ephesians 6:18. We are not to think of prayer as a "process"; if we do, then we will be occupied with the means and not see God's intent in prayer.

The following nursery rhyme illustrates this:

The Centipede was happy quite

Until the Toad in fun said,

"Pray, which foot goes after which?"

This moved the Centipede's mind to such a pitch

He lay distracted in the ditch

Considering how to run...

The lesson is:

The praying soul was happy quite

Until someone did say,

"Prayer must be this, and that, and thus!"

Which put the Christian's mind in such a fuss

That here and there in vain he'd rush

To Find out how to pray!

The basic truth of prayer is that it is one's heart in communion with God--it is the breathing of the New Nature.


Part II, "How Definite Should Prayer Be?"

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