Do You ever pray?

Yes I pray!   … and I find the research and the “strategy” against us intriguing.

I haven’t been writing so much lately–it is summer after all.  This week my church in engaged in a week of prayer.  Because I am tuned in to prayer more this article from Intellectual Takeout caught my eye.

Pew Research recently posed that question to Americans and found that if the U.S. was a village composed of 100 people, just a little more than half would pray daily. Twenty-one percent would pray weekly or monthly, while 23 percent rarely would.

How many people pray in U.S.

I found this scenario interesting, particularly when viewed in the light of a passage from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.

For those unfamiliar with Screwtape, the book consists of letters written from the demon Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, in an effort to turn him into an expert tempter. When it comes to prayer, Screwtape’s advice is straightforward and simple:

“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether.”

Judging by the chart above, that advice seems to be working on about half of the American population. But what about the other half who does admit to praying? Is there a way to hijack those individuals?

Screwtape says yes:

“If this fails, you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of [the patient’s] intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself [God] we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.”

Prayer is often scoffed at as the tool of the intellectually weak. Yet as C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest intellectual minds of the twentieth century, implies in the above passage, prayer is extremely important, but often misunderstood by even those who regularly engage in it.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Is prayer a necessary and useful tool? Or is it all too often thwarted by the inflated egos of humanity?

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4 thoughts on “Do You ever pray?

  1. I guess prayer needs a working definition. Down-on-your-knees time is only one aspect of prayer. Becoming more and more conscious of the presence of God in our lives opens us to hear God more often. What God says to us is more important than what we say at God. “Pray without ceasing” would imply living a humble life under the guidance of The Spirit. My last thought comes from Romans 8:26, that when we are beyond hope, The Spirit intercedes with moans that go beyond words.
    Partly we need to expand what we consider prayer, and live with Christ as the centre and foundation of all our breathing.
    Peace

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    • Thanks David. I think there are many postures of prayer.

      This post was a copy so maybe is should have put a disclaimer with it. But I was struck by how little Christians pray. I am struck by how little I pray. God has been reminding me lately that I am His because he wants a relationship with me. Prayer is essential to that relationship and an indicator of it’s intimacy.

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      • Sorry if it seemed I was in critic mode. It is this very expanded (and persistent) notion of staying in touch with God both to speak and to hear, that is, as you say, needed more among the followers of Jesus. Peace

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        • “Staying in touch with God both to speak and to hear, that is, … needed more among the followers of Jesus.” I can do alot of things, yes. The older I get the fewer things I do. The older I get less things are important to me. The older I get the more important the most important things are to me. The older I get the more important my time with Jesus is. It was 3:30 when I rose this morning. It is almost 5 and I am still here–with Jesus. I can’t live without him. Today is not a good day without him. I am learning more the reality that life IS Christ. The more I realize that the less significant everything else in life becomes.

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