Term Paper: Jesus' Teachings, Prayer, &amp Christian

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[. . .] The above are all examples of this "communication" with God in the true spirit of how Prayer was intended.

St. John Chrysostom weighs in again: "He who uses this great weapon knows not death, leaves the earth, enters heaven, and lives with God. He falls not into sin; he loses affection for the earth; he makes his abode in heaven; and begins, even in this life, to enjoy the conversation of God. How then can you disquiet such a man by saying: 'How do you know that you are written in the book of life?' " St. Paul, in turn, admonishes us to support out prayers with exhortations of thanksgiving as we place our petitions before God (Philippians. 4:6). And again, St. Paul defines prayer in his missive to the Corinthians. Perhaps, in a testament to prayer not being passive, he asks that we make our prayer resound in God's ears as opposed suppress our miseries. St. Paul reminds us that God indeed is faithful; he grants succor to everyone that invokes him (I Corinthians 10:13).

Cardinal Vincent Luis Gotti (OurLadysWarriors.org, 2002), in support of St. Paul's teachings, avers that God grants grace and gives us the strength to resist temptation. His Grace asks that we approach with humility and devotion: "for we can do all things in him who strengthens us by his grace, if we humbly ask for it. We can do all things with God's help. This is granted to everyone who humbly seeks it. Thus, we have no excuse when we allow ourselves to be overcome by a temptation. We are conquered solely by our own fault, because we would not pray. By prayer all the snares and power of the devil are easily overcome." In addition, St. Augustine states that, "all hurtful things are chased away" by prayer.

It bears repeating that Prayer is talking to God with mind, heart and often with the voice. It is a response to God's invitation to seek him (Matthew 11:28). We should also recognize our primary intercessor -- The Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is, and should be, the primary component of prayer. Through Baptism we are one with Christ and his Church; therefore, all our prayers are offered with his to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have free and confident access to God through our faith in him (Ephesians 3:12).

God calls every person to prayer. God is completely invested in a quest for human salvation. Of this we can be doubtlessly confident. To achieve this end, God wishes engage us in a personal relationship through this unique conversation. God's invitation strikes at our heart continuously although our lack of devotion continues to shut God out. One might consider the following: Even as Christians we are often lost sheep because we ask the Good Shepherd to Get Lost!! God is always around us. If we look hard enough we will find God (Acts 17:27). Paradoxically, we learn to pray best by praying. It comes naturally from our own hearts. Therefore, Prayer is an honest and open reflection of our minds, our hearts, and our entire life. The book of psalms is a source of "Prayer for all occasions." The following psalm can provide an example that may for many epitomize the voice of man crying out to God: "Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my groaning. Hearken to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch" (Psalm 5:1-3).

As Christians we should consider The Lord Jesus Christ as the primary intermediary and medium in this conversation with God. Christ as a means to achieve perfect communion with God. Traditionally, prayer has been composed with the humanistic and secular preoccupations of modern Christians. Prayer as a conversation with God presupposes the divine presence in man's world and the possibility of contacting Him. Judeo-Christian tradition proclaims that God has manifested Himself to man even before Christ when he made his presence known to the Israelites. In Christ, the Father was fully revealed. Through the Christian Sacraments of the Father, the manifestation of God in human terms and the Word of the Father we find the Risen Savior. Prayer is the acknowledgement of this miracle. Christ the Lord is present in all things, "drawing them to Himself." Every believer recognizes the person of Christ in the meal of the Eucharist. Man recognizes the sacred action around the supper table that is revealed in the values of love and care, which find their ultimate meaning in Christ himself. The encounter with God through Christ forms the core of prayer.

Prayer has also been defined as a cognitive act described as reflection, awareness and attention to God. St. Thomas defined prayer as "the interpreter of desire." Prayer is always dialogic in character. An important distinction must be made between "speaking to" versus "speaking about" a divine person. Human action insofar as it is human is a non-verbal, symbolic expression of the person acting out of his freedom and love. As long as he (or she) invests his person in what is being done, there will be reflection in the activity and communication. Prayer is explicit when there is direct confrontation with the divine persons as distinct love-objects, when one goes beyond the mediations to touch the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit in some sense of immediate relationship. Therefore, prayer is a response of faith and the act of faith terminates not in the objectification but in the Reality of God Himself. Prayer is implicit whenever the believer gives himself to either celebration in a spirit of disinterested love. Implicit prayer involves sharing of the spirit of brotherhood and family communion without consciously and directly thinking of God in personal.

If prayer is conceived only in abstraction, as the relationship with the transcendent God outside the universe, and is not integrated with man's life in the world and the human community, it is no wonder that it loses its appeal for modern man. Schillebeeck writes: "Life in-and-for-the-world feeds our understanding of God, as it were; in essence, Christian religious faith means that our concrete existence is a divine promise of salvation." (Schillebeeck, 1981) If this is overlooked, then one's religious life threatens to turn, not toward the real and living God but towards God as a notion. Prayer as a meeting with God can be defined as occurring in and growing out of man's search for human values.

For a theology of prayer, the way God speaks to us is as important as His intimate being and reality. Ernest Larkin declares: "Incarnational flesh and blood must be engrafted on the skeleton of the classical definitions of prayer. Word and Sacrament, as well as human, secular values, supply the bodiliness for encounter with God. Prayer must begin with response to the Word of God that comes to man where he is, in the world." Life itself becomes a listening device. Life involves openness to God's Word. (Larkin, 1984)

DEVOTION AND FAITH IN PRAYER

Charles Finney, former president of Oberlin College, in an 1839 lecture on devotion provided a prescription for how devotion is paramount for the purity of prayer. Recognition of God as the Almighty needs to be repeated. So is recognizing God's love for all. Everything is for the Glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17, 23) and the importance of God (Romans 6:13, Romans 14:7, 8). Finney cautions against merely going through the motions such as reading the Bible, praying, or attending meetings. While these are individual acts of devotion, they are not devotion. Finney advocates devotion to be a state of mind and heart. Such a state involves consecrating our wills, our lives and beings as a "continual offering to God." True devotion must necessarily involve supreme devotion of the will, at all times, everywhere, in everything we do, our thoughts, and feelings. (Finney, 1985)

Devotion is that state of the will in which the mind is swallowed up in God, as the object of supreme affection, in which we not only live and move in God, but for God. In other words, devotion is that state of mind in which the attention is diverted from self, and self-seeking, and is directed to God. All thoughts, and purposes, and desires, and affections, and emotions, all everything depends on devotion to Him. Devotion and true religion are identical. While praying, no matter how fervent ones wishes are, they are merely words or actions if the primary concern is centered on man rather than God.

True devotion can be identified with true love. Supreme love to an object is a state, and not a mere act of the mind. Where, therefore, there is a supreme love, devotion, or consecration to God, it must be a state -- a voluntary state of mind… [END OF PREVIEW]

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