Prayer: Conversing with God (II)

This is the 35th blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Conversing with God.

We will turn once again to the wisdom of St. John Chrysostom (d 407AD) on prayer.  In this quote he reiterates points he himself and others made regarding prayer, and also gives a fair summary of many of the ideas we have already encountered in this collection of quotes on prayer.

“God, after all, looks not for beauty of utterance or turn of phrase, but for freshness of spirit; even if we say just what comes to mind, we go away with our entreaties successful. 

… Often we do not even need a voice.  I mean, even if you speak in your heart and call on him as you should, he will readily incline towards you even then.

  … he is not the one to say, ‘Now is not a good time to approach, come back later.’ …

There is no need either of doorkeepers to introduce you, or of managers, guardians or friends; rather, when you make your approach in person, then most of all he will hear you, at that time when you ask the help of no one.  So we do not prevail upon him in making our requests through others to the degree that we do through ourselves.  You see, since he longs for our friendship, he also does everything to have us trust in him; when he sees us doing so on our own account, then he accedes to us most of all. 

This is what he did too in the case of the Canaanite woman: when Peter and James came forward on her behalf, he did not accede; but when she persisted, he promptly granted her petition. 

… Let us too study how to converse with God;

let us learn how we must make this entreaty.  There is no need to take ourselves to a library, nor outlay money, nor hire teachers or orators or debaters, nor devote a great deal of time to learning this oratorical skill.  It is instead sufficient to want to do it, and the skills fall in place.  In this tribunal you will be able to speak not only for yourself but also for many others.

And what is the object of this skill in pleading? 

The art of praying: being of sober mind and contrite spirit, approaching him in a flood of tears, seeking nothing of this life, longing for things to come, making petition for spiritual goods, not calling down curses on our enemies, bearing no grudges, banishing all disquiet from the soul, making or approach with heart broken, being humble, practicing great meekness, directing our tongues to good report, abstaining from any wicked enterprise, having nothing in common with the common enemy of the world – I mean the devil, of course.”  (COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS  Vol 1, pp 47-49)

Next:  Prayer as Relationship with God