In the Gospel of Mark (Chapter 11, verse 24) it says that Jesus told his disciples “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. I find this inspiring, especially when I am trying to produce prayers that I can use when it is my turn to lead the intercessions at our local Parish Church. However, I also find myself wondering how it works because, if what you are asking for has already happened, why would you be asking for it? This short paper tries to give an explanation but, because human words are inadequate to fully capture ideas that involve fundamental principles and the will of God, it can only provide a rough guide that may prove useful to other seekers after truth.

The reason why I pray is because I have experienced the presence of a benign intelligence that I call ‘God’, especially at times of greatest stress and need, and from my earliest days. Private pray for me is a conversation and involves both expressing questions and listening to answers. Understanding what has been revealed is a process that can only be complete when I stop seeing things from a human perspective. It has helped me through pain and provided peace and wonder that no words can encompass. Therefore, because I know it works for me, in public prayer, I try to encourage others to have the confidence to ask for help, however difficult or trivial the subject matter is, and, very importantly, to say “thank you” for what has been received and, also for the fact that we are listened to.

Sometimes, within an explanation that can overwhelm the mind and be thrilling to experience, I have been left with phrases that I have known before, but which suddenly take on a new and greater meaning. Often these come from words that are regularly used in church services or verses that I know from the books that make up the ‘Bible’. This was the case when I prayed to understand the passage that starts this paper and put what it says into practice. In happened early one morning, not long after I had awoken, as has occurred several times before perhaps because it is a time when I (and others) are able to be more receptive.

There was in my head the words from a prayer that is used when the offertory is taken to the priest (or whoever, is leading the service): “All things come from you and of your own do we give you”. As I tried to put what I had experienced into sentences that could both help me understand and explain it to others (which I think is important to do) I thought of the opening words of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

God includes everything! If we acknowledge that all the physical things (such as any money in the offertory box) are part of the universe we see ourselves as being part of, then that is also true of every idea or anything that we cannot touch or measure. If we can picture a world that is different, more complete, than the one we currently see, then perhaps this is because it already exists in the creation that sprang from that first word (or, conception). By giving this thought back to God, acknowledging its existence and giving thanks for it, maybe this allows it to become manifest. Only by having the faith to try it out when we pray, will we gain confirmation of the truth that we can know the fulfilment of prayer.

Paul Newman
May 2018