The Worship Quote of the Week for (08/05/2008):

Answers to Prayer
If God already knows what is going to happen and what is best for us, even what we are going to say in our prayers, why do we pray? How should we pray? Today's WORSHIP QUOTE deals with the nature of prayer. I have included catechism questions from two historic documents and a wonderful excerpt from C. S. Lewis's essay "The Efficacy of Prayer."

Question 98. What is prayer?
Answer: Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.
---The Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1647,

[This next one is very similar. If you have read the first one, you can see where these early Baptists went for their start on this question and answer.]

Question: What is prayer?
Answer: Prayer is an offering up our desires to God (Psalm 62:8), by the assistance of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26), for things agreeable to his will (1 John 5:14; Romans 8:27), in the name of Christ (John 16:23), believing (Matthew 21:22; James 1:6), with confession of our sins (Psalm 32:5- 6; Daniel 9:4), and thankful acknowledgments of his mercies (Philippians 4:6).
---The Baptist Catechism, Charleston Association of 1813,

There are, no doubt, passages in the New Testament which may seem at first sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers. But that cannot be what they really mean. For in the very heart of the story we meet a glaring instance to the contrary. In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is recommended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.

---C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), "The Efficacy of Prayer," in THE WORLD'S LAST NIGHT AND OTHER ESSAYS. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960, p. 5. (Modern edition, January 2003, ISBN-13: 9780156027717)

[For another tutorial on God-pleasing prayer, it's not a bad idea to study what Jesus taught his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4). If you have a moment, look up the verses that are cited in the second catechism question above.]

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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