Prayer means, basically, communicating with God, usually by talking. Since it seems much easier to talk to God than to hear God, prayer for many people tends to be one-way at first, and even to seem like talking to oneself while faith in the assumption that God exists is small. It may seem especially futile to pray in the beginning, especially when the goal of the prayer is to achieve miracles for someone's benefit, and not a lot of patience is available. During the first years, what I found is that the main utility of prayer was as a means of reflection, sort of a self-therapy, and that rather than making changes in external reality I was much more likely to find changes in my attitude, feelings, beliefs and goals. During difficult times I found prayer to be a comfort and a source of reassurance and wisdom. Sometimes, when I seemed to be close to God, I would gain insights into myself, the nature of God, or in how the things God has taught me fit together. Most of what I write about knowing God was realized during prayer or while letting God guide my thoughts. In prayer I have been given many tools for gaining control over myself, like the ability to examine my motives. During some magical sessions I have literally felt as though God were praying through me, as if I was so in tune with God that He was actually giving me the words to pray. The more I practice prayer, the more easily and naturally it comes and the more beneficial it seems to be.

   Two especially powerful forms of prayer, which I hear infrequently in the Church, are:

   The auto-catalytic prayer:

  • Please give me more desire to pray.
  • Please give me greater thirst to know God.

  •    The courageous prayer:
  • Let me know God at any cost (it is helpful to give examples).
  • Please expose every fear preventing me from knowing God.

  •    An illusion pervades even the church that knowing God has to take a long time, filled with empty, tedious hours before having a rewarding relationship "somday". I have found a few very nasty misconceptions that make this illusion possible. One misconception is that seeking to know God is like climbing a mountain. It makes sense when climbing a mountain to rest when you are tired, and resume when you feel refreshed. Even if you only spent a few minutes each day climbing, you would eventually reach the top and get to enjoy every vantage along the way for a long time. What I have found, however, is that knowing God is more like swiming up a river. Unless I can overcome my laziness to a certain extent, I will eventually drift back to where I was earlier even after an intensive period of spiritual progress. Granted, it may be easier to retrace my steps the second time, but a relationship with God is like any other in needing consistent nurturing if it is to grow, and continuous reprioritizing if it is to get the attention it deserves. I hope to encourage you by pointing out the cause of my past failure and the key to future success - don't let yourself get discouraged. In this realm, discouragement is self-perpetuating, and conversely, faith is self-perpetuating also.

       If you would like to discuss the material here, please join the Puzzle Piece forum. Questions asked there may end up on the FAQ for convenient consolidation.