I'm no expert on this subject - in fact, after reading the following passages from a book during my Sabbath reading time today, I feel like an absolute beginner. The thought of this kind of prayer reminds me of the publican and the Pharisee in Mathew, where Jesus praises the attitude of the publican as evidenced by his inability to even raise his head. His thoughts were obviously more on God's majesty and Holiness than on whatever his request was.
This is from the book How to Pray by R.A. Torrey -
"In the 12th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we have the record of a prayer that prevailed with God, and brought to pass great results. In the 5th verse of this chapter, the manner and method of this prayer is described in few words:
"Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
The first thing to notice in this verse is the brief expression "unto God". The prayer that has power is the prayer that is offered unto God.
But some will say, "Is not all prayer unto God?"
No. Very much of so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray. In very much of our prayer there is really but little thought of God. Our mind is taken up with the thought of what we need, and is not occupied with the thought of the mighty and loving Father of whom we are seeking it. Oftentimes it is the case that we are occupied neither with the need nor with the One to whom we are praying, but out mind is wandering here and there throughout the world. There is no power in that sort of prayer. But when we really come into God's presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire from Him, then there is power."
Continuing on from Torrey (and getting more and more convicted -yet excited...!),
"If, then, we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening to our petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him. This is only possible by the Holy Spirit's power, so we should look to the Holy Spirit to really lead us into the presence of God, and should not be hasty in words until He has actually brought us there."
"One night a very active Christian man dropped into a little prayer meeting that I was leading. Before we knelt to pray, I said something like the above, telling all the friends to be sure before they prayed, and while they were praying, that they really were in God's presence, that they had the thought of Him definitely in mind, and to be more taken up with Him than with their petition. A few days afterward I met this same gentleman, and he said that this simple thought was entirely new to him, that it made prayer an entirely new experience to him."
If then we would pray aright, these two little words must sink deep into our hearts, "unto God."
Wow! Doesn't that make you wonder why God has answered any of your previous wimpy, distracted, half-hearted prayers? Or is it just me?!
More tomorrow. I have a whole new insight into what it means to pray "without ceasing" after reading Torrey's thougths on those words.
And speaking of prayer- thanks to all of you who prayed for me to live throught the flu.