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Prayer is Not an 'Ought'

We are urged to pray more; and told that God's blessing comes if we pray more. But I have found the very opposite - almost "Pray as little as possible!"

I have found that since I abandoned the 'ought' of prayer, I pray far more and of far greater quality than I did before. When I prayed for the sake of obeying the command to 'pray more', most of my prayer was manufactured for that purpose and did not express what I really wanted in my heart, and it swamped my real prayer.

RS Thomas said, "To pray true is to say nothing." Though he was probably advocating mystical silences, I take it to mean that much of what we say during prayer is not true.

When I am freed from the 'ought' of prayer, and pray just what is on my heart, what is true, all the extraneous prayer falls away. I am left with praying what I really want in my heart, and I am left with the recognition that God is my sovereign, and I take him seriously, then my prayer becomes more real, more rich, more thought out and more effective and I start to pray more, not because I ought but because I have rejected the ought of prayer.

The issue is not how much I pray, but how much I desire the sort of thing that God desires and how much I take seriously the request or thanksgiving I make to God.

Each request or thanksgiving now involves a a kind of commitment because it is real. Almost, better to have no prayer than to have prayer that hides the lack of our wills being freely aligned with God's will or lack of commitment to our requests.

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This page, "" is part of Andrew Basden's pages - pages that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext, in the style of classic HTML.

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In case you cannot read that, it is the letters "xn" (for "Christian") at "kgsvr" followed by ".net" (standing for knowledge server on the net"). Thank you.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material for almost any non-antagonistic purpose (including commercial) subject to certain easy conditions.

Created: 19 October 2003. Last updated: 19 November 2006 unet. 12 August 2014 .nav, new .end, rid ../. 2 April 2021 RS Thomas; new .end,.nav,bgc, link to nv/prayer.