How to Pray (Part 4)

The Conclusion to Jean-Nicholas Grou (1730-1803) Devotional Classics by Richard Foster

The Prayer of Silence

Imagine a soul so closely united to God that it has no need of outward acts to remain attentive to the inward prayer. In these moments of silence and peace when it pays no heed to what is happening within itself, it prays and prays excellently, with simple and indirect prayer that God will understand perfectly by the action of grace. The heart will be full of aspirations towards God without and clear expression. Though they may elude our own consciousness, they will not escape the consciousness of God. This prayer, so empty of all images and perceptions, apparently so passive and yet so active, is, so far as the limitations of this life allows, pure adoration in spirit and in truth. It is adoration fully worthy of God in which the soul is united to him as its ground, the created intelligence to the uncreated, without anything but a very simple attention of the mind and an equally simple application of the will. This is what is called the prayer of silence, or of quiet, or of bare faith.

God is Teaching Your Heart

If you feel any attraction of the simple and general prayer of which I have been speaking, do not reject it on the excuse that it has no definite aim and that you rise from your knees without having asked for anything. Let me say it again, you are mistaken. In reality, you have asked for everything, both for yourself and for those whom you love, and far more effectually than if you had made the detailed requests whose many words would only have exhausted you and hindered the action of God.  After this brief explanation, you must see that you have not until now understood what prayer really is. If, after reading this you are beginning to have an understanding of prayer, thank God for it; for it is he who is teaching your heart and what I am writing here for your instruction comes from him."

Suggestedreflection question: In section 8, the author handles the question, If I am silent, how can I make my requests know to God?  Grou replies, "In reality, you have asked for everything, both for yourself and for those whom you love, and far more effectually than if you had made detailed requests." How does this compare with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 6:8?  
Does this teaching negate the need, at times, to list specific requests?

Suggested exercise: Try Grou's approach for 1 week. Pray by exercising simple attention to God and a simple application of the will.

From Marilyn

Thank you everyone for reading this 4 part Monday Thoughts - Excerpts From HOW TO PRAY by Jean-Nicholas Grou. I thought it was exceptional and truly there are applications and practices to apply within my own prayer life and thought it would bless some of you with additional prayer tools! I appreciate those of you that have replied with your thoughts, conversations and experiences in prayer. It blesses me to hear how the Lord is working in your life! While we were on vacation (the second week, our children joined us), we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary by going out to dinner as a family and the children gave us a very cute picture with our wedding year, 1981, and a picture of the children/grandchildren which says on the matte/frame..."A lot can happen in 35 years!" Truer words have never been spoken! As I reflect this morning on the 35 years of marriage, it does not even seem like we are the folks that have such a checkered past or that these things happened in our marriage. But yet it was us!

A past that is so marked and so defined by sin at one time, is the same "present" that is completely and utterly transformed into a picture of Jesus Christ...certainly not by any wits or wills of our own! I know I've shared this before, but if the Lord would have shown me a movie of the first 12 years of our marriage, on the night before I said my vows, I know "me," I would have
said, "no thanks, I'll go to the mission field!" Thankfully the Lord does not give us more than we can bear for if HE would show us our time of suffering before it happened, I fear none could sustain the pain.  But gracefully, the Lord shares only His light on the immediate time and space and allows us to grow in our pain, closer to Him. If I would have not looked past the years of marriage that were painfully hard, selfish, prideful, arrogant, unforgiving—to see the purposes He's determined for such a time as this—I would have missed it and chosen a road of less agony. But Christ has other plans, plans to bring about redemption, forgiveness and fruit in the midst of trials and tribulations...do not overlook a time of suffering within your own life and do not dismiss times of heartache as the Lord is here with us, He is present in the good times and in the bad growth happens more times than not within those times of suffering if and only if you open your heart to him and let him do the weeding and pruning. At times it seems as if we are the only ones moving in a relationship, but please do not discount what Christ can do through you when you relinquish your pride and hurt over to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit begin to work in your life. Though it may feel like your are conceding and giving in to some sort of principle, when the Holy Spirit tells you to let go, please let go and let God have control and walk in His goodness, His righteousness, His transforming power and be the light that shines. You will be surprised at those around you...they cannot help but testify to God when complete and utter transformation happens! Prayer is the turning point for that opportunity, when you begin to pray about how YOU and I need to change, God will move in all areas that surround our lives.