In Psalm 19:14 King David defines his 'prayer', with crystal clarity, as consisting of 'the words of his mouth' and 'the meditation of his heart thereon'. As a person after God's own heart, David supplicates that both the components of his prayer be "acceptable" in God's sight. The words of his mouth are NOT of his OWN arbitrary choice. The Holy Spirit leads him, and guides him to use the choicest or the most appropriate words. Unless the meaning of those words is contemplatively meditated upon in his heart, 'the words of his mouth', by themselves, will not be acceptable prayer in God's sight. This principle is of unique relevance to us, since we often RUSH THROUGH RECITATION OF PRAYERS IN GREAT HASTE, as if it were A RACE AGAINST TIME, without ever contemplating their meaning in our hearts. Our prayers are then like rainless clouds, and they are unacceptable in God's sight. The fact of the matter is that FAST PRAYERS do not even reach the
Throne of Grace to be deemed acceptable or unacceptable in God's sight. A typical example is the prayer, 'Anugrahangal Niranjirikkunnavane', said IN A DESPERATE HURRY in 24 to 29 seconds during Dhoopa Prarthana, conducted in a ritualistic manner after the conclusion of Holy Qurbana. It is important to bear in mind that 'CHOLUTHU' or mechanical recitation of prayers does not please God the Father, but provokes Him and irritates Him. Recitation has to be orderly, slow, steady and graceful in order to be meditative and meaningfully reverential.
God the Father is Holy, first and last. There is none among us that does good; no, not one. What makes us stand in His holy presence is the shed blood of the Lamb of God. We come into His holy presence with singing, praising and thanksgiving, NOT ON OUR OWN MERIT, but only in and through the Son's precious name. That is why we are admonished in Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." In serene stillness, the awareness of our being in His holy presence dawns on us, and it enables us to invoke the Holy Spirit to help us pray, as we should, properly.
Prayer is a one-to-ONE intimate conversation with God the Father, in the name of God the Son, monitored by God the Spirit. Barriers to prayer are many and varied - e.g. unconfessed sin, unforgiveness and vindictiveness, grieving God the Spirit and the likes. Elimination of these barriers is possible only by divine grace through the Sacrament of Holy Confession and Communion.
The ultimate goal is to be as perfect as the Heavenly Father, for which we need to seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and emulate the examples shown by the Lord, His Apostles and His saints. "No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11) [To be continued]
Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen.