Soul of Prayer

I am reading a small but dense book on prayer by P.T. Forsyth, “Soul of Prayer.”  Here is a taste of it:

    Prayer is not mere wishing.  It is asking–with a will.  Our will goes into it.  It is energy.  Orare est laborare.  We turn to an active Giver; therefore we go into action.  For we could not pray without knowing and meeting Him in kind.  If God has a controversy with Israel, Israel must wrestle with God.  Moreover, He is the Giver not only of the answer, but first of the prayer itself.  His gift provokes ours.  He beseeches us, which makes us beseech Him.  And what we ask for chiefly is the power to ask more and to ask better.  We pray for more prayer.  The true “gift of prayer” is God’s grace before it is our facility.

    Thus prayer is, for us, paradoxically, both a gift and a conquest, a grace and a duty.  But does that not mean, is it not a special case of the truth, that all duty is a gift, every call on us a blessing, and that the task we often find a burden is really a boon?

…. We are so egoistically engrossed about God’s giving of the answer that we forget His gift of the prayer itself….In every act of prayer we have already begun to do God’s will, for which above all things we pray.  The prayer within all prayer is “Thy will be done.”  And has that petition not a special significance here?  “My prayer is Thy Will.  Thou didst create it in me.  It is Thine more than mine.  Perfect Thine own will”–all that is the paraphrase, from this viewpoint, of “Hear my prayer.”  “The will to pray,” we say, “is Thy will. Let that be done both in my petition and in Thy perfecting of it.”  The petition is half God’s will.  It is God’s will inchoate.  “Thy will” (in my prayer) “be done (in Thy answer).  It is Thine both to will and to do.  Thy will be done in heaven–in the answer, as it is done upon earth–in the asking.”

    Prayer has its great end when it lifts us to be more conscious and more sure of the gift than the need, of the grace than the sin.

It keeps getting better (I’m only 8 % into it at this point).


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