The Rev. DUKE TUFTY, Unity Temple on the Plaza: I believe there are two types of prayer.
Petitionary prayer is beseeching God to give us something good, take away something bad or make something happen that is aligned with our desires.
It is based on the belief that there is somebody (a higher deity), somewhere, listening to our plea, then deciding whether our prayer is worthy of granting. Why some prayers are answered and others aren’t, God only knows.
The other type is affirmative prayer and gratitude.
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Jesus said, “When you pray, believe you already have what it is you desire and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24) I don’t believe he meant this in a material sense where we could pray for a new car, believe we have received it and it will show up in our driveway. Prayer is of a spiritual nature and provides in a spiritual way.
If you are going through a difficult time, affirm that you have the strength to make it through, express gratitude for that strength, and it will be yours. If you are experiencing a great conflict in a relationship, affirm that you have the compassion, understanding and capacity to forgive, express gratitude for those attributes, and you will find a way to move beyond the conflict. If you are facing great fears, anxiety and stress about the future, affirm that you have the peace, faith and confidence to rise above and move beyond the fears, and you will.
You have everything you need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.
Affirmative prayer reminds us of that during disturbing times and calls forth the power within to calm the turbulent waters of life.
The Rev. JOE NASSAL, Precious Blood Center, Liberty: I received a note from a young man who was about to become a father for the first time.
He and his wife were praying for a healthy baby. But he asked, “My dilemma is praying to God for something specific to happen and if it doesn’t, what does that say about God, or our prayers?”
He wrote that he was much more comfortable “praying for God’s blessing, for strength, for peace of heart, for clarity.”
When we look for instant answers or specific solutions based on our prayer, we treat God like a genie that may or may not grant our wish. If our prayer goes unanswered, we think we lack sufficient faith; or perhaps our prayer was not pleasing to God.
In our prayer, we can imagine God is like a Supreme Court justice rendering a decision. After a long and thoughtful deliberation, God decides the answer to our prayer is “No.”
Prayer is not about saying the right thing but being in the right relationship with God. My faith tells me the power of prayer is in nurturing and deepening this relationship with God.
We pray to center our lives in the presence of God. We pray not to bend the will of God to our desire but to be united in love with God and one another. Here we find the power of prayer: Because of God’s love dwelling within us, we are not alone but are in communion with one another in our common need.