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Prayer and Presence
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When a doctoral student at Princeton Seminary asked, "What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?" Albert Einstein replied, "Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer."

Though this brilliant man had discovered much about the hidden realities and mysteries of the universe, prayer remained an enigma to him. And yet he wanted to know—what is prayer, how does it work, is there real power behind it, can we believe in it and engage in it while embracing the scientific forces that shape reality?

And since Einstein made that statement years ago, store shelves all over the world have been flooded with books looking at this topic from every conceivable angle. People simply want to know about prayer.

Poet and Essayist Nancy Mairs said, "Who one believes God to be is most accurately revealed not in any credo but in the way one speaks to God when no one else is listening."

Picture of God 

That certainly highlights the significance of prayer. How would your personal prayer experience describe your view of God? For some of us, the way we "pray" reveals our belief that God is our innermost soul and heart, our truest selves; for others of us, our "prayers" reveal God as a Father to be petitioned for needed or wanted gifts; to others of us, our "prayerful" silence and meditation reveal God as the Source of universal energy flowing through all things; to still others, our desperate pleas for mercy reveal our fears of a God who judges and holds in His hands the keys to our destiny. What and how we "speak" or "address" prayer opens a window to our picture of God, who God is and what God's like. Because the truth is, prayer is more than a topic, a belief or even a teaching. Even Einstein was drawn to prayer as a mysterious experience that has potential to transform life and our journey with God.

The Psalmist once quoted God as saying, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). I’m learning more and more that I simply need to stop talking so much in prayer and start being silent, listening, quieting my heart and mind enough to simply be in the mysterious and unexplainable Presence. I need to let go of more of my own personal agendas when I come to God and let Him be God.  The psalmist was so right—it’s in the stillness that we really experience God meaningfully.
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By Greg Nelson. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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