By: Margaret Brown
WITHOUT PRAYER, how do those who have no faith get through a day when everything goes wrong? Perhaps a child is missing or sons and daughters serving far away fall into the hands of an unfriendly nation? To carry that load and be unable to appeal for help beyond the usual channels, where one’s agony of spirit is just another file in the pending tray of daily life…
Whether calling upon many Gods or having faith in only one, as in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to pray is to believe that there is an ultimate authority above all others. Intercession on behalf of someone in trouble, asking forgiveness for personal misdeeds or seeking God’s help just to get through a difficult day, is free to all believers. It offers the priceless gift of hope in the cold light of reason and through the dark night of the soul.
However, there is a blurred difference between true faith and superstition: the hastily sketched sign of the cross before taking up a challenge, a shouted “Jesus Christ” or “Oh my God” in the face of sudden fear, may be as valueless as throwing spilt salt over one’s shoulder, unless done in faith.
Learning to pray needs practice: the more you do it the easier it becomes, always remembering that, as Christians, we are petitioning a loving God to whom we should listen as well as ask. Give thanks, because even the smallest joys are worthy of praise anywhere, anytime – silently, or even aloud, depending upon where you are and who is with you. And then there are the big things – matters of life and death, war and peace, family and Church to bring before the one in whom we put our trust.
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