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Author Topic: Asking God for Stuff (Prayer)  (Read 5498 times) Average Rating: 0
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plutonas
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« on: May 11, 2003, 04:57:02 PM »

I'm just wondering, has anyone actually asked for something specific that they wanted or needed and received it through prayer?

The reason I ask is because in the Gospel (Mark 11:24) it says: "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."

Anyone who chooses to answer can say as much as they want on their personal experiences. I'm not obligating anyone to say anything specific (in fact, a simple "yes" or "no" answer will suffice).
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2003, 05:00:25 PM »

In my experience, God gives if were are both worthy of whta we ask and it is spiritually profitable for us.
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2003, 05:03:49 PM »

This is how I see it: God is our Father so he helps us out.  When I need something, I ask Him first, then I ask a fellow human.  I figure if I need 10 bucks or I need a car, or I need food, nothing is too small to ask from God.

He can always show us we don't need something, so why not ask?

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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2003, 05:09:31 PM »

Plutonas, I would like to thank you for bringing this very important topic to light. I could write pages on this alone. Okay, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. I have prayed to God for specific things, yet I never received them. I mean I would pray for these things with great faith. However, these prayers were never answered. This caused me great distress, confusion, despair, and despondency because no one could answer me why other than sometimes God says no.
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2003, 05:10:30 PM »

In my experience, God gives if were are both worthy of whta we ask and it is spiritually profitable for us.

Yes, but isn't it possible to be worthy of something and spiritually profitable, yet God does not give us the request?
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2003, 05:17:25 PM »

I suppose anything is possible in such matters.

One example I thought of is say Mr. X asks God for a wife and he is both worthy and it would be spiritually profitable for him. Well perhaps he is not in the right town to meet her yet, and so God is saying yes to the prayer, but also expecting His servant to be patient as he will provide in due time. In the meantime Mr. X is lonely, but theis makes him better appreciate Miss Y when the time comes.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2003, 06:11:17 PM »

Another example would be Mr. X asks God for a chance to talk this girl whom he really likes and he is both worthy and spiritually profitable for him. Well, perhaps the right situation has not arisen or he has blown some oppurtunities to speak to her, and so God is saying yes to the prayer, but also expecting His servant to be patient as he will provide in due time. In the meantime Mr. X is lonely and depressed about the whole thing, but this makes him better appreciate Miss Y when the time comes.
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2003, 06:12:14 PM »

I almost never ask for specifics in prayer (even when asked to pray for specific things), but pray generally, exactly because I usually don't know what's best. I think it was Garth Brooks that had that song about thanking God for unanswered prayers, and there's a lot of truth to that. If we got what we prayed for (even for things we are totally sure would be "good" for us), we'd probably be miserable. I guess with that in mind, my answer to the original question isn't very relevant. My answer is "yes, God has answered my prayers," but then, my prayers were of the "please Lord help me" type, not the "Lord, help me in X way or through person Y" type of way.

The only specific prayer that I can think of that I'm sure was a direct answer from God was my wife. You'd probably have to know me personally to understand the extent to which it was necessary, but I needed a very particular, extremely special girl as my wife, any "normal" girl couldn't have withstood my oddities and mannerisms and quirks and great faults. God graced me with a girl as much of a "religious nut" (in the eyes of the world) as me, but a girl who is pure and innocent and vulnerable, which is exactly what I needed (considering my particular weaknesses) for marriage to work. Perhaps one of the reasons that Tobit is my favorite OT book is exactly because it explicitly confirms that God does indeed give "someone special" to us if we ask, and that certain marriages really can come about because of the will of God, and not just because of "chance" meetings.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2003, 06:57:26 PM »

Okay, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. I have prayed to God for specific things, yet I never received them. I mean I would pray for these things with great faith. However, these prayers were never answered. This caused me great distress, confusion, despair, and despondency because no one could answer me why other than sometimes God says no.

Sadly, the same thing has happened to me and that's precisely why I asked this question in the first place.  However, not only did the fact that my prayers went unanswered (or so this is how I perceived them to have gone) cause me great distress, confusion, despair, and despondency but moreover also resulted in a growing irreligious and nihilistic nature.  Even though this has been going on for about a year and a half now, only recently have I tried making some genuine attempts to regain some of my spirituality again.  Though I'm not sure how it's going to turn out...
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2003, 07:05:05 PM »

Okay, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. I have prayed to God for specific things, yet I never received them. I mean I would pray for these things with great faith. However, these prayers were never answered. This caused me great distress, confusion, despair, and despondency because no one could answer me why other than sometimes God says no.

Sadly, the same thing has happened to me and that's precisely why I asked this question in the first place.  However, not only did the fact that my prayers went unanswered (or so this is how I perceived them to have gone) cause me great distress, confusion, despair, and despondency but moreover also resulted in a growing irreligious and nihilistic nature.  Even though this has been going on for about a year and a half now, only recently have I tried making some genuine attempts to regain some of my spirituality again.  Though I'm not sure how it's going to turn out...  

Yes, Plutonas I understand your plight. I still struggle with this whole issue myself. I thought at times that God didn't care. I became despondent and angry towards God. Have you spoken to a priest about this? I am currently working on these things with a monk. He is helping me little by little. Although, an answered prayer would be of immense help in this whole battle.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2003, 07:14:19 PM »

Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks

Just the other night a hometown football game  
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame  
And as I introduced them the past came back to me  
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be  
 
She was the one that I'd wanted for all times  
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine  
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then  
I'd never ask for anything again  
 
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers  
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs  
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care  
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers  
 
She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams  
And I could tell that time had changed me  
Inn her eyes too it seemed  
We tried to talk about the old days  
There wasn't much we could recall  
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all  
 
And as she walked away and I looked at my wife  
And then and there I thankedd the good Lord  
For the gifts in my life  
 
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers  
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs  
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care  
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers  
 
Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers


Garth Brooks was wrong, God answers all prayers, sometimes he says No. Sometimes he says not right now. But he's write in showing that God's NO may hurt now, but prepares us for a greater reward that we have no way of seeing.

Also I would have to say that we cannot judge for ourselves if we are worthy or if a situation would be spiritually profitable for our immortal souls.

Funny thing, I was looking up "Garths Brook Unanswered Prayers" using the Google Safe Search Engine on the portal and the ad to the right that came up was this:

Pray the Jesus Prayer
FaithLinks webzine: An ancient
prayer inspires millions today


Maybe that's your answer.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2003, 07:34:50 PM »

I think we have slightly different interpretations of the song, Nicholas Smiley I think what Garth said was right on: from our perspective, we don't always get what we pray for, but that's a good thing. In the end, God's not giving us what we want is the best answer to prayer he could give us.

Ahh, the subjective interpretation of contemporary country music on an Orthodox Christian message board.  Grin

Regarding girls, all I can say is, keep waiting and praying (pray that God reveals his will Smiley ). I was 23 when I met my wife, I spent my teenage and early 20's years shying away from relationships that I knew weren't where I was suppose to be. I know it's difficult, and it stinks to be in a situation like that.
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2003, 12:08:34 AM »

Sure, we can ask for things, but we must never forget that when we pray we also pray that God's will be done.  I know in the past I have prayed for things, I did not get them(in the timeframe I was expecting) and I became angry at God; as a result I really didn't pray for God's will to be done, or if I did I wasn't prepared for the result.  

Praying, opening yourself to communion with almighty God is not a trivial matter.  When you pray you agree to become leaven; you ask that God become involved in your life(moreso than how God is involved in every human life by the nature of God being God and us being humans) and this never leads to complacency, for God does not desire our lukewarm efforts.

There are a great multitude of explanations for not having a prayer granted.  The idea is to not despair, which is the easiest thing for us to do in such a situation; the path of least resistance.  There is a reason for everything, though we may not see it now.  I know that very few of my prayers have been answered through the years, but I am still here with breath within me, and after nearly five years of dissapointment I have done my best to not become angry at God, myself, or my brethren, and it seems that things are slowly becoming better.  As one of my priests likes to say "it cannot rain forever."  

In the end things will either work out or they won't.  We must have faith to accept our unanswered prayers and have faith to accept our answered prayers when they don't turn out how we imagined.  But let us rejoice, as Christ is Risen, and no matter how bad our lives are, we can still bear witness to Christ by the martyria of our own desires, and as long as we can do so we can never be truly defeated.
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2003, 12:24:57 AM »

Quote
"it cannot rain forever"

No, but it can rain 99.9% of the time.  It is so easy to despair, because when things haven't changed despite the efforts of our prayers, what else is there to do? Put on a silly smile?
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2003, 12:38:37 AM »

Quote
"it cannot rain forever"

No, but it can rain 99.9% of the time.  It is so easy to despair, because when things haven't changed despite the efforts of our prayers, what else is there to do? Put on a silly smile?

Perhaps not a silly smile, but take comfort in knowing that as long as you do not give into your despair that you own grief is an act of redemption.  Things changing really isn't the point.  The life in Christ is easier for some and harder for others.  Whether you marry someone, die alone, become rich, die in a cardboard box, or any other ideal or feared reality we can imagine doesn't really matter if we cling to our hard-heartedness.  If a cross was easy to bear it really wouldn't be a cross.
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2003, 01:14:36 AM »

If there is a severe weakness in my prayer life, it is my distress at the constant refusal of God to grant even the simplest requests.

So I'm going to spill my guts...

For the last 13 years of my life I have been going NOWHERE.  I've tried job after job, career after career, and nothing seems to work.  I've been a teacher, a warehouse worker, and inventory control manager, a Roman Catholic seminarian, an entrepreneur, and NOTHING has worked out.  Zero, zip, nada.  Now, with the failure of a business, I've had declare personal bankruptcy, and even with that, I had a lot of non-dischargable (tax) debt I now get to deal with from that failure.

I haven't been able to even start a relationship with a woman.  The woman I thought would marry me, didn't.

I am now 34 years old, and staring at 35 like I'm looking down the barrel of a gun.

All I ever wanted was a decent job and a good wife.  I have neither, and I also now take care of my disabled mother.

It occurred to me recently that if I had taken ANY ONE of the paths I intended in those last 13 years, I would not have embraced Orthodoxy.

This at the same time brought a lifetime of aimlessness and failure into focus, and enraged me.  Thirteen years to become Orthodox?  Did it really have to take that long?

...and I'm not going to get those 13 years back...

My priest and every nun at the local metochion said, "Are you praying the 40-day Akathist to St. Xenia of Petersburg?"  I replied I was.  They practically guaranteed that St. Xenia comes through.

But she hasn't yet.

I didn't ask for the world.  I asked for enough money to get to ground zero, and a stabilization of my financial situation.

I get terribly discouraged in prayer.  Time after time I've asked (and I was taught to be specific in prayer).  Time after time I get "no".  After awhile I wonder why I'm wasting my breath.  The only reason I keep going is because I keep hearing the question of St. Peter in my head:  "Lord, to whom else will we go?"

If you gentle sould would kindly pray for me, I would appreciate it.  Maybe God will listen to you.  It seems my line is disconnected.

Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2003, 06:13:01 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

Quote
"it cannot rain forever"

No, but it can rain 99.9% of the time.  It is so easy to despair, because when things haven't changed despite the efforts of our prayers, what else is there to do? Put on a silly smile?

Arab proverb: "All sunshine, makes a desert."

John.
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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2003, 10:44:53 AM »

I think we all forget the place of struggling in our lives sometimes (even regarding perceiving no answers to our prayers). Whenever we ask: "when can I stop struggling and get on with my life?" it is then that we least understand the Christian life. If God were to grant such a wish, we would almost certainly no longer be christian. Smiley  Praying...
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« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2003, 04:29:56 PM »

Quote
Arab proverb: "All sunshine, makes a desert."

Easier said when there are no clouds in your life.

I have been doing some thinking about some of the posts made here. I have come to the belief that Orthodoxy is not the pathway to happiness. It is not about being joyous, sure I understand that our joy in some abstract way is in Christ who rose from the dead, but to those who are struggling in life that means very little, at least to me. One can pray and pray, yet that does not mean that life will get any better, in fact it can get worse. There are times where I decided that whether or not I pray is not going to change or help anything. My life before prayer was miserable, and when I prayer it is still miserable, so what difference does it make?  At times during prayer, I felt like I was talking to wall.  In other words, I didn't think God really cared. There are times where I stopped praying because it didn't make a difference. God does not give answers to us readily, so what is one to do?

In Orthodoxy, we are to bear crosses since Christ himself bore his cross. This is some test we are suppose to go through to build our faith. I frankly don't understand any of this. God claims to be the lover of mankind. Yet if you claim to be the lover of someone, would you not do something to alleviate some of your love one's suffering? I don't understand this either.  It seems that God loves some of us like an abusive parent loves their children.  I know I will hear the Oprah treatment of 'God does understand and he empathizes with you.' Frankly, cheap empathy statements do nothing. It is like saying that my pet cat feels bad for me too.

Rather, we just continue on like rats in maze blindly clinging to the hope that God will 'someday' free us from this. In fact, we are to look forward to God's kingdom. I am sorry, but when one is in despair and bearing a cross, it is a little hard to see heaven. What is the purpose of this then? To survive this hell on Earth and if we pass the trials, we then go to heaven? But must of our lives here have be aimlessly engaged in struggle? Some have toiled for many years with struggling, yet nothing has changed.  To me at times, it seems like this cross is some sick, twisted joke all played on me.  And yet, this is Orthodoxy, yes the wonderful true faith that it is. There are no promises of blessings, except for eternal life, no happiness in life, except for our 'true happiness' in Christ and when we get to Heaven. But we are not to be happy in this life..never..boy, I am sure glad I was born into this. I know I will be fried for posting this from others but these are thoughts going through my mind right now.
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« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2003, 06:10:38 PM »

Yes, Plutonas I understand your plight. I still struggle with this whole issue myself. I thought at times that God didn't care. I became despondent and angry towards God. Have you spoken to a priest about this? I am currently working on these things with a monk. He is helping me little by little. Although, an answered prayer would be of immense help in this whole battle.

No, I haven't talked to anyone about it.  Not only would I feel uncomfortable talking about it to my parish priest but it would probably have a very detrimental effect if I did.   When I (rarely) attend church I usually snicker at the stuff he says during his 'speech' at the end of the liturgy.  The guy constantly seems to be concerned about teenagers and young men and women not coming to church (most people who go at our church are at least middle-aged) but addresses none of the issues and concerns that face this age group.  In any case, I don't think I'm ready to start attending church on a weekly basis again.  The 2nd to last time (or maybe it was the 3rd to last?) I attended church I became enraged and very cynical, even blasphemous, as I sat there amidst a congregation of oppressors and hypocrites who had a better life than I did.  

But I will probably be going this Sunday in order to show my gratitude to God for a gift He (I think) bestowed on me recently. I had been praying to God and the Virgin Mary to "make my life worth living" and the next day as well as the day after that I found some percocets (which are high-grade opiates, in case anyone doesn't know) while searching my parent's cabinets and drawers.  Yes, my misery has caused me to start using drugs.  Sometimes I like to think that God's plan for me is to become a heroin-addict.  It's seems very probable at this point.  But like I said, I have a reason to give thanks... if I hadn't found these percs I would have had to face life sober.  And that is very dangerous.

Anyway, I don't know what's going to happen to me in the end.  Either my faith will prevail and I will become a better Orthodox Christian or I will lose my faith altogether.  The ironic thing is that if God had granted me what I had asked Him for, there wouldn't even be a remote chance of the latter happening.  In fact, I'm as sure as I can be that the former would have definitely happened.

I don't know about you, man, but this thread is really starting to depress me...
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« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2003, 12:31:55 AM »

I want to respond to both of your comments in depth, but as I don't have the time, I wanted to reccomend a lecture cassette, The Word of the Cross, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.   SVS Bookstore doesn't carry it at the moment, but it is available at http://shop.store.yahoo.com/conciliarpress/tapforbuspeo.html

It sounds condescending to reccomend a book or tape to someone in agony, I know, but this lecture had a profound effect upon my views on suffering.   I hope this discussion carries on...it is at the heart of the reality of our faith.
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« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2003, 01:02:00 AM »

I want to respond to both of your comments in depth, but as I don't have the time, I wanted to reccomend a lecture cassette, The Word of the Cross, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.   SVS Bookstore doesn't carry it at the moment, but it is available at http://shop.store.yahoo.com/conciliarpress/tapforbuspeo.html

It sounds condescending to reccomend a book or tape to someone in agony, I know, but this lecture had a profound effect upon my views on suffering.   I hope this discussion carries on...it is at the heart of the reality of our faith.

A tape?HuhHuhHuh?? Angry Seriously. A tape?Huh Look, I am sure it may be a great talk, but how is another lecture going to aide anything? Have you honestly read the posts? Listening to some tape by some priest I don't think is going to help here. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2003, 09:55:36 AM »

Sure, why not a tape.  People reccomend books for all kinds of situations and this is no different.  Although on second thought, perhaps it would do no good...

St. Innocent teaches that there are interior crosses and exterior crosses.  Your depression seems to be a very hard cross to overcome, but until you make progress with that I seriously doubt that you'll find true happiness or improvement.  We often do not have the power to change our situation in life, but we always have the choice to give into these situations or not.  Which is why saints can find even the most brutal methods of torture a way to glorify God while I'm sure there are some secular billionaires wrapped up only in their faults that they hate themselves and everyone around them.  

I am no saint.  I have never been subject to the kind of physical torture that many martyrs have.  Yet I have seen my share of grief in life.  

I hope both of you(and anyone else not sharing who may be suffering) escape from the hell you find yourself in.  It is not easy, and the only real way out is to embrace Christ to even the degree of letting ourselves go.  I will pray for you, and I hope that you will do the same for me.

Glory to God, who has shown us the light!
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« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2003, 10:20:58 PM »

I am surprised how quickly this thread has died down. I thought that it would last a lot longer. I guess we might be contagious and so no one wants to catch anything from us.
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« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2003, 11:35:36 PM »

In my case it's certainly not that, sinjinsmythe! I was moved by the stories here. It's just that I learnt the hard way on another message board about a year ago never to really self-disclose on such fora - that's why I haven't posted here.
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2003, 10:38:28 PM »

If there is anything that I have learned is that God does not give you what you really want because he knows what is best, yet apparently one has to wait for that.
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« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2003, 12:02:21 AM »

When you think about it, "Thy will be done" is one of, if not the hardest thing for a person to pray.  We all have our own hopes and dreams, and being denied them is never easy.
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2003, 12:15:11 AM »

Brother Hoosier,

The Lord works on His timetable, not ours. It could be today, tomorrow, next week / month , have faith and pray from the heart, He will answer.

james

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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2003, 09:42:10 PM »

I think as Christians, we have to look beyond the idea that prayer is just asking for "stuff".  Prayer is also conversing with God, talking to Him about what's on our mind, hearts, our fears, upsets, gladness etc.  

I have also had a couple of  years in "the desert" where I feel God has not answered my prayers.  I have been sick, and God has not given me back my full health.  It has been a struggle for me because I have had to put my "dreams" aside and live as normal life as possible, with a health ailment.  But recently, I came to the decision I would study what exactly prayer is, and this has helped me a lot. I have been reading a booklet, which is beautiful reading called "On Prayer" - extracts from Saint John of Kronstadt's writings.

Here are a few paragraphs of what he writes:

"God is Truth: and my prayer must be truthful too, just as life.  God is light, and so must my prayer be offered in the light of mind and heart.  God is fire, and my prayer must - like life - be burning. God is absolutely free: and so must my prayer be a free outpouring from the heart.  What wealth of human spirit: let him but think of God in his heart, let him but desire spiritual union with God - and He is immediately with him.  And neither the walls of houses, nor any riveted steel of prisons - neither mountains nor chasms - can prevent such union.  God is immediately with you; so also are the Angels and the Saints: with God, all of them are before your eyes, beside your heart like the closest of friends - are ever in your presence.  O, the wealth of the human spirit!"

"Prayer is the uplifting of the mind and heart toward God, is the contemplation of God, audacious conversation of creature with Creator, the reverent standing of the soul before the King and Life Himself Who giveth life to all; to forget all that surrounds us for His sake - is food for the soul, air and light, it is the soul's life-giving warmth, it is the cleansing of sins; it is Christ's blessed yoke and His light burden.  Prayer is the constant feeling (awareness) of one's spiritual frailty or poverty; it is the soul's consecration, a foretaste of future beatitude, is angelic beatitude, is the heavenly rain which refreshes, satiates and makes fruitful the soil of the soul, is the power and strength of the soul and body; it is the airing and clearing of our mental atmosphere, enlightenment of the personality, joy of spirit, a golden bond which unites creation with its Creator; is cheerfulness and courage in all of life's sorrows and temptations; is success in deeds, is dignity tantamount to that of the angels; is the consolidation of faith, hope and love.  Prayer is the reform of our lives, is the mother of heartfelt contrituion and tears; is strong inducement to perform works of mercy; is safety in life and destruction of the fear of death; is the neglect of eartlhy treasures and wish for heavenly goods; is expectation of the Judge of the universe, of common resurrection and of life in the hereafter; is increased efforts in avoiding eternal torments, is the constant search for the mercy of forgiveness from the Lord; is walking before the eyes of God, is the blessed vanishing before the Creator and Provider of all, is vital water of the soul; prayer is the containing of all people in one's heart through love, is the bringing down of heaven into the soul, is the containing of the Holy Trinity within the heart according to the words: 'We will come unto him and make our abode with him.' - John 14:23"

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God doesn't answer every prayer we pray; sometimes He answers "No, my child - I have a better way!"
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"Without sorrows there is no salvation. On the other hand, the Kingdom of God awaits those who have patiently endured. And all the glory of the world is nothing in comparison." - St Seraphim of Sarov
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« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2009, 11:44:41 PM »

Everyone,

I am an Orthodox Christian, but I study and have come to appreciate at a deep and open level truth in other religions.  This video on prayer in Kabballah corresponds to that I have found in many saints and Orthodox teachers, it is very relevant to this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mFRUGDY8Ao&feature=channel
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« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2009, 09:59:43 AM »

Do you think that the purpose of prayer is that God just wants us continually dependent on Him, wanting us to be focused on living our faith rather than be looking for "stuff" as if He is a geni in a bottle?
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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
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