Retreat on Prayer

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her small daughter was very sick with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication. She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car. She didn’t know what to do,
so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened.
The baby sitter told her that the fever was getting worse. She said, “You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door.”
The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been left on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time had locked their keys in their car. She looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”
She prayed to God and asked Him to send her help.
Within five minutes a beat up old motorcycle pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head.
The woman thought, “This is what you sent to help me?” But, she was desperate, so…. she just kept quiet.
The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.
She said, “Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”
He said, “Sure.” He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened.
She thanked the man and through her tears she said, “Thank you so much! You are a very nice man.”
The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.”
The woman thanked the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a professional!”
Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. It enables us to communicate with God through our great High Priest, Jesus. St Paul wrote, “In this age, faith in Him privileges us to "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). God tells us, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (Isa. 5:16). Above are examples of the prayers of those who have gone before us and found almighty God to be faithful and true to His unchanging, eternal Word.
Always have trust in God, Pray to Him and be Patient. He will help us from sources which we never could have imagined.
Praying to God is the way to communicate with God. For communication to be effective there should be a genuine desire.
A boy was watching a holy man praying on the banks of a river. When he had completed his prayer, the boy went over and asked him, "Will you teach me to pray?"

The man studied the boy's face carefully. Then he gripped the boy's head in his hands, and plunged it forcefully into the water! The boy struggled frantically, trying to free himself to breathe. When the man finally released his hold, the little boy gasped for breath, then asked, "What did you do that for?"

The holy man said, "I just gave you your first lesson." 

The boy asked, "What do you mean?"

The holy man replied, "When you long to pray as much as you wanted to breathe, only then will I be able to teach you to pray."
Ensure that our prayer has the following elements.
Firstly, Prayer should express adoration: Give  praise and honor to the Lord.
Judean King Hezekiah asked deliverance from Assyria: "O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." (2 Ki. 19:15)
Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea prayed thus: Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Ex.15:11).
In God's throne room in heaven there sounds: "Worthy is the Lamb... Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Rev.5:12-13).
Secondly Prayer should have an element of confession: Honestly deal with the sin in our prayer life.
Nehemiah prayed on hearing Jerusalem's walls were in shambles: "confess the sins of the children of Israel...We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances." (Neh. 1:6-7).
David after his sin with Bathsheba prayed. "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight." (Psalm 51:3-4).
Prophet Daniel’s prayer in Babylon was: "We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled...Neither have we headed Your servants the prophets." (Dan. 9:5-6).
In Luke 18:9–14, Jesus gives the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. It’s easy to see from the Lord Jesus’ parable that the Lord approved of the publican’s prayer and detested the Pharisee’s prayer. That is because the latter was about showing off and making a display of himself and enumerating his deeds for God. He placed himself in a very high position, even at the same level as God. He bargained with God, took credit for God’s own work, and lacked even the slightest piety before Him. He completely lacked any fear in his heart for God, and this aroused God’s scorn and hatred. But the publican was entirely different. He knew that he was a lowly sinner, so in his prayer he had fear of God and laid himself bare, acknowledging his own corruption and sincerely pleading for God’s forgiveness, and in the end, he received God’s mercy.
Thirdly, Prayer should be thanksgiving: Verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life and in the world around you.
God sent two angels to the earth. One was given the duty of collecting the supplications, and the other was to collect thanks giving. The angels in charge of supplications filled his box in few minutes and had to travel to heaven many times. But, the angel in charge of collecting thanks giving could barely collect a box till evening.
Many of our prayers are answered. But how many go back to God for showing gratitude to the blessings we received.
The psalmist expresses his gratitude towards God for the good things he had received.
"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods." (Psalm 95:1-3).
The Virgin Mary rejoicing at God's promise that she would bear the Messiah:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior... For He who is mighty has done great things for me." (Luke 1:46-47, 49).
Oh, that man would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works." (Psalm 107:21-22).
Jesus’ prayer was always filled with thanks giving.
Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus told them to roll the stone aside. So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.” Then he commanded Lazarus to come out.
Many psalms are filled with thanks giving passages. All through the Psalms, no matter what David was facing, we read his outpouring of gratitude to God. As he encountered good times and bad times, David always turned back to the truth of God's goodness. This attitude often carried him through the hardest of situations. Use this example to teach your child that gratitude is a habit that is learned through practice. Just as we teach little ones to say please and thank you through repetition and relentless reminders, we learn to express our thanks to the Father through consistency. Yet, while gratitude is a habitual attitude, we want our thanksgiving to come out of a genuine heart. The more we meditate on God's goodness and practice our thanks no matter what our circumstance, the more it will naturally flow out of a heart that loves him.
I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. (Ps. 7:17). I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Ps. 9:1). For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good. (Ps. 52:9)
And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:12-19).
Another element of prayer is Supplication: Pray for the needs of others and yourself.
The apostle Paul asked the church to pray:
"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving: meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ." (Col. 4:2-3).
Jesus prayed for His disciples:
I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me...The world has hated them because they are not of the world...Keep them from the evil one." (Jn. 17:9, 14-15).
Stephen asked forgiveness for those who stoned him: "Then he knelt down and cried...'Lord do not charge them with this sin." (Acts 7:60).
Pray for the needs of others. Our sincere prayer will be acceptable in the sight of God.
Supplication for Oneself:
There was a Christian lady who lived next door to an atheist. Everyday, when the lady prayed, the atheist guy could hear her. He thought to himself, "She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn't she know there isn't a God?"
 Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying "Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don't you know there is no God?" But she kept on praying. 
 One day, she ran out of groceries. As usual, she was praying to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was gonna do. 
AS USUAL, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself. "Hmph . . . I’ll fix her."      
He went to the grocery store, bought a whole bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch, rang the door bell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do. When she opened the door and saw the groceries, she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, jumping, singing and shouting everywhere!
The atheist then jumped out of the bushes and told her, "You old 'crazy lady, God didn't buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries!"
Well, she broke out and started running down the street, shouting and praising the Lord. When he finally caught her, he asked what her problem was . . .
She said, "I knew the Lord would provide me with some groceries, but I didn't know he was gonna make the devil pay for them!"
Hannah requested a son from the Lord: "If You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life." (1 Sam. 1:11).
Jonah prayed from the belly of the great fish: "I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. I will look again toward Your holy temple." (Jonah 2:2, 4).
Jesus spent the night in prayer in Gethsemane shortly before His crucifixion:
"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Mt. 25:39).
Place our needs before God and they will be granted.
Little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly A saying his prayers, "Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night's sleep."    
 Suddenly he looked up and shouted, "And don't forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!" 
 "There is no need to shout like that," said his mother. "God isn't deaf." 
 "No," said the little boy, "but Grandma is."
God hears the cry of his children and he grants them abundantly.
Pray to God With Sincerity and Honesty.

A married man once prayed:

Dear God, you gave me childhood and you took it away.

You gave me youth and you took it away.

You gave me a wife.......... It’s been years now, just reminding you.
The Lord Jesus once told His disciples: And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly (Matthew 6:5–6). We can see from what is written in the Bible that when the Pharisees prayed they often liked to choose a place crowded with people. They enjoyed standing in the synagogues or at intersections to pray, and then they would frequently recite the Scripture and make long, disingenuous prayers. It was all done for others to see, to make others see them as devout and pious, and through that gain people’s admiration and make people look up to them. That kind of prayer is nothing more than exalting themselves and showing off; it is trying to deceive God. That’s why the Lord Jesus said that the Pharisees were hypocrites, and that their prayers were hypocritical, detestable to the Lord. Upon reflection, at many times when we pray, we also harbor incorrect motives. When we pray speak to God openly and honestly. Only this kind of prayer delights God.

Pray constantly. It is important to pray constantly without losing heart. In Luke 11:5-13 and 18:1-8, the Lord presented twin parables that deal with our faithfulness and persistence in prayer. In the first one, a man had a guest arrive at midnight and he had nothing to feed him. So, having a friend not far away, he went to his house to borrow some food. His friend wasn't happy about being awakened, so he gruffly told the borrower to be on his way. But he would not be discouraged-he needed that bread badly. He shamelessly continued knocking until his friend got up and granted his request. In the second parable, a widow went to a judge to seek relief from an enemy who was oppressing her. Not only was her situation hopeless in regard to her oppressor since she was a widow without the means of protecting herself, but the judge she had to deal with was about as wicked as a man could get. He was her only hope, so she laid her case before him. For a while he refused to assist her, but she kept coming to see him and begging for help. Finally, though he still had no compassion in his heart and no concern for the poor widow, he gave in and consented to help her.  In Luke 11:9-10, Jesus pressed the lesson home. "And I say unto you, 'Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."' In verses 11-13, Jesus makes it clear that God is loving and concerned:

God knows the needs of his people and grand them blessing as they require. That is why Jesus said. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Pray with the faith that the prayer will be answered.

A Bar Opened Opposite a Church.....

The Church Prayed Daily against the bar business.

Days later the bar was struck by lightning & caught fire which destroyed it.

Bar Owner Sued the Church Authorities for the cause of its destruction, as it was an action because of their Prayer.

The Church Denied all Responsibility!!!

So, the judge commented,

"It's Difficult to Decide the Case because here we have a Bar Owner Who Believes in the Power of Prayer & an Entire Church that Doesn't Believe in it"
We pray a lot and complain that our prayer is not heard. But we have to do self-examination whether we visualized that the prayer is answered. There is a story about a little village boy.
In a village rains failed for the third year in succession. The crops had disappeared and the land was a brown swath of dusty rubble. Trees had lost their leaves years ago and stood out like silhouettes of cactus on the dusty horizon. There was a stream that skirted the village in years bygone. Now the riverbed was dry. Where once flowed clean, fresh water from the nearby mountains, there was now a bed of clay, cracked in a checkerboard pattern with gaps as wide as a foot.  No one knew what had happened to the birds except for the vultures that circled the town, looking for a carcass or two of an animal that was left dying.
There was famine in the land. Desperate for help, they decided to hold common prayer. As the men formed neat rows for prayer, a child came with an umbrella.  Some were curious; others laughed at him. At last someone asked him. “Why did you bring the umbrella:”
The child replied. “After the prayer it will rain and we will get wet.”  If you pray for rain, you must have certainty in your heart that it will rain. This is lacking in the prayer of most of the people. We pray but do not believe that our prayer will be granted.
St Thomas believed that his prayer would be accepted. According to tradition, Paloor had a Brahmin village of families with strength of 64 adults. He saw some Nambudiri Brahmins were performing Vedic ritual called Tharpanam. St. Thomas was attracted to the ritual and queried about the act and challenged the logic of their submission since the water thrown above was not accepted and returned to earth. St. Thomas threw water in the name of Jesus and it stood still in the air and glittered like diamond.
When Jesus asked anything to the father, he knew that it would happen. The faith that what we ask will be done is very important. But delayed gratification often puts us to disbelieve. Jesus himself has explained it.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!(Mt. 7:9-11) Obviously a father does not give that which is harmful to a child, but rather that which will be for good. Keep in mind that is this comparison, human parents are only a faint picture of the our Father's heart. He delights to give His children those things which are for their good and what will be for their lasting profit. Prayer is the appointed means whereby these mercies are received. An unknown author expressed it thus:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, most richly blessed.
Family prayer. Children learn to pray from their parents. Listen to the experience of Pope John Paul about his father.
"I had not yet made my First Communion when I lost my mother: I was barely nine years old. So I do not have a clear awareness of her contribution which must have been great, to my religious training... Day after day I was able to observe the austere way in which my father lived... Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church." 
The old saying, “A family that prays together, stays together” carries a lot of weight. Prayer is a natural parenting tool. (Deuteronomy (6:6-7) states that we are to keep God’s words on our hearts and share them with our children. As they experience faith through prayer, it will help them seek God at all times. Children will discover that God is eager to be part of their lives. In our home, we pray before we leave for a journey. We pray when problems arose. We pray when we celebrated good news. That invites God into all aspects of our lives and show we want God to be part of our family.
There is a funny story that happened during family prayer in a village. The village had a lot of coconut trees and toddy collection was a wide practice in the village. In one of the families the mother and children assembled for the prayer. Father took the last seat. Prayer started and after some time father became silent. Elder son looked back and he found father was missing. Slowly he too slipped out. Toddy was a weakness for him. He decided to climb a coconut tree to drink toddy. As he was going up he found someone climbing down. They came face to face.  The descending man was shocked to see his son climbing up. In great embarrassment the father said, “Son, this is not good.”
The son replied: “If this is not good let’s climb on the next tree.”
What is done by the parents is imitated by the children. So it is a great responsibility of the parents to lead their children in prayer by way of their own examples.
Family prayer builds Unity and Intimacy in the family. Prayer builds unity and intimacy not only with the person to whom we pray, but the people we pray with, and those we pray for. By praying together, a couple’s relationship and home life can be changed for the better. By praying together, a broken family can be restored. Remember, family members can never change each other, but God can change them if you invite Him to do so. No matter what struggles you face today, none are too big for God to solve, if you will humble yourself before each other and the Lord and ask for His help. When you experience the tangible presence of God that comes through praying together, it can change the spiritual climate of the home.
Those who hold family prayer should continue to do it. Those who do not should start right away. Prayer will transform you, your family and your parish.