Thursday, December 06, 2007

Advent and prayer

[Anna, a prophet] never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. Luke 2:36-38

Prayer along with fasting was something that was Anna's regular practice. She had chosen a simple lifestyle engaged in one simple yet profound activity: fasting in prayer.

Insofar as fasting helps promote prayer (and I could use a good book on fasting) it can be good. Prayer is the activity of the soul, meaning us in our whole person pouring ourselves out to God, humble and simple and unadorned as that pouring out in prayer may and really normally should be.

I believe there is no greater thing we can do than simply to pray to God. This does take at least a personal "fast" at the moment from everything else. We think no other thoughts- at least that's the aim- do nothing else except pray.

What Anna's requests were is not made known to us, though they certainly were related directly and indirectly to "the redemption of Jerusalem."

Do we really believe in God enough to lift our hearts to God in prayer? Do we believe our prayers matter? That they arise as holy incense to the Lord and are answered in God's good time? This is especially true when we lift up our hearts together, before God.

Anna believed, and so prayed. I'm sure she had many days when it was just a simple act of faith, devoid of any great feelling. When one fasts, this can particularly be true; it's not a feel good state. I think God values our prayers that we pray when we don't feel like praying. But we choose to because we want to, and in so doing, we're actually, in the mystery of God's working, making a difference.

Advent is a time of looking forward to the freeing of ourselves, others and the world- in Jesus. This is directly and indirectly what our praying is all about, and we look forward to its fulfillment, just as Anna did, in the God and Word who became flesh/human, Jesus.

What would you add to this, or say? (a question for all these posts, whether I state it or not)


Rachel Mc said...

"I think God values our prayers that we pray when we don't feel like praying." Sometimes I don't want to pray because I can't give God my best. I never thought about God appreciating our prayers when we aren't at our best. (I need to ponder this) I absolutely believe prayers are heard, answered and that they matter to God. Maybe that is where this post is leading me , I matter to God, therefore my prayers matter even if I am not at my best.

Anonymous said...

i like what you wrote about the idea of the personal fast at the moment of being with God...putting all aside to talk with God.

very good to think about

Martin Stickland said...

Beer! I'll drink to that Ted.

Hope you are okay my friend, England is cold and blowy!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Great point I think now of the psalms. Some of those prayers are actually people at their worst, it seems. But they're praying to God, and that's what we need to do regardless. We need to repent whether we feel like it, or we feel our heart is right or not. Maybe that's alot of what it means or is involved much of the time in us humbling ourselves before God.

I like what you say here. Good to remember.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks. Yes, that's a hard one, but surely has its place. It's important for me because I'm always busy it seems, thinking or engaging my mind in something else. Have to cut everything else out, as much as in me is, as much as I possibly can- to really pray, it seems.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I could use one right now, but haven't had any for quite some time. A cold water is doing me now, along with coffee, even at this late hour.

It's cold and blustery here, snow falling. Hope you folks are keeping warm enough over there.