Doors into Prayer: An Invitation (Pocket Faith)

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9781557252852: Doors into Prayer: An Invitation (Pocket Faith)
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For those who are beginning to pray or seeking fresh insights into prayer, a Christian retreat and workship leader uses childhood prayers as a starting point, then guides readers gradually and gently toward a more disciplined prayer life and explores the different types of prayer that believers have used throughout the centuries.

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About the Author:

Emilie Griffin is the author of several books on the spiritual life, including Clinging: The Experience of Prayer; The Reflective Executive; and Spiritual Classics, a collaboration with Richard Foster. She lives in Alexandria, Louisiana, with her husband, William Griffin

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Chapter 1: Emergencies Some of us are taught to pray in childhood. We learn to memorize prayers and to recite them. I have in mind the image, in A.A. Milne's book, of Christopher Robin at bedtime: "Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers."1 But perhaps in this happy bedtime experience, being fussed over and tucked in by a devoted parent or grandparent, we don't fully learn to pray.

What comes later and with some force is fear. We feel insecure, off balance. At such times we are blessed if the childhood teaching sustains us. But even if it doesn't, we find we can pray in emergencies. Without much formality, the words come.

I remember being in Mexico City during a major earthquake that struck in the night. People wandered from their beds, crying out, finding the doorways in the dark and telling others what to do. "Go into the doorway, it's the safest place," someone called out to me. And when I found myself in the doorway, not yet safe but safe enough to take stock of what was happening, I knew I was praying, and had already been praying for some seconds. (Earthquakes are measured in seconds, but they feel much longer.) In emergencies we want clear-headedness, confidence, steady nerves. And so, without much coaching, we pray.

When Jesus and his followers were being tossed around by a fierce storm on the sea of Galilee, Jesus slept through it. The others could not. When they roused him to calm the storm for them, what they wanted most was stability. But Jesus offered them serenity. He criticized them for their lack of prayer. "Oh you little-faith-ers!" When we pray in emergencies, we exercise faith without thinking about it. There's no time for doubt now, something tells us. Consistent with the time-honored view that there are no atheists in foxholes, we cry out to a power greater than ourselves. Inwardly or outwardly we shout for help. No one has to tell us how to pray.

Is there a lesson here? Elaborate schemes and civilized styles of prayer may exist, but the need to pray is primitive and fundamental. Prayer is built into us, as it were, ready to flow when trouble kicks in. Admittedly, such prayers are fleeting. If we pray in emergencies, and only then, we can hardly say we have a relationship to God. But the prayer of emergencies tells us, without question, that such a relationship is possible.

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