Mary Proude wrote in 1635 that she believed prayer "distinguished a saint from the world; for that in many things the world and hypocrites could imitate a saint, but in prayer they could not."
When I was a child this prayer my mother embroidered hung in my room...
I did not hang it in my children's room....that whole business about dying before waking seemed inappropriate to me for a child. Monsters under the bed is bad enough! And fairytales before bed?!! Not the Cinderella kind, but the Gingerbread House and Witch kind! What was that generation thinking?!
It wasn't until I was an adult, however, that I came to believe in the power of prayer. It had always felt like a one-way communication. I was obliged to tell God how I felt about Him, about life, and make my requests, but I really did not expect anything to change. A popular saying was "God helps those who help themselves," so I set about being as self-sufficient as I could be. It was only some time later that I learned the saying was not from scripture. Benjamin Franklin said it.
It was only after we found ourselves in dire financial straits soon after moving into our house, I, a person who prided herself on her planning skills and had not anticipated this situation, discovered that God actually hears our prayers and answers them according to His wisdom. In fact, I soon came to learn that He answers all prayers from the heart. It's just that we do not always understand how He chooses to answer. Too often because we've told God the "how" we miss the answer because we're looking in the wrong place for it.
Yes, Mary Proude, a true saint is known by his/her prayers--those prayers that are made in private, trusting God for the outcome even if it's not what we expect or want. It's being willing to be used as part of the answer like when you pray for someone's healing and He asks you to go clean the person's house or care for the children--those kinds of things. It's like asking for help with the bills, then selling one of the cars or downsizing your house. It's like praying for souls to be saved, then giving money to missions instead of buying that new couch you've been wanting. Those kinds of things.
We can all, for a time, put on a good face for others, but God looks at our hearts and knows us even better than we know ourselves. In those times when we lay bare our hearts He can show us our true selves and offer us forgiveness and love. This is the essence of prayer--establishing a relationship with our Father--where we become vulnerable and willing to be made new through His help. Where we are given the strength we need to carry on in the midst of our troubles. Where new insights--the mind of Christ--can be laid hold of and implemented in the world. Where we can find help and assurances as the prayer says...."If I should live for other days, I pray Thee, Lord, to guide my ways."
If you are new to this kind of praying, do not lose hope, for Romans 8:26 tells us, "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." We just need to open our hearts to receive and then obey.
Father, may I never neglect to come to You for everything. I praise You now for Who You Are and what you have done for me. May I have the ears to hear You when you speak and the willingness to obey.
Link to scripture: http://bible.cc/john/15-7.htm
Take action: Quiet Time with God