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Daily Devotional • January 14

By Elizabeth Baumann
Prayer Is a Gift
A Reading from Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The lesson we have today is one of the best prayers in the entire Bible, rivaled only, in my opinion, by the Lord’s Prayer itself. So here’s a thing about prayer: I teach my little girls that prayer is just talking to God, or even just being with him. That’s a good beginning. Prayer, after all, grows out of a habit, primarily the habit, not of some particular exercise or time (though it almost always has those features), but simply of remembering that we are in God’s presence and that because of that, he can hear us. But I’ve come to think of prayer primarily, not as a habit or a discipline, but as a gift.

Elsewhere in his writing, Paul describes Jesus himself as interceding for us, and the Holy Spirit translating our inadequate prayers to God. We don’t even pray on our own! Everything we do, everything we bring to God, he must give us first.

Thus I find most advice about prayer troublesome. Pray first thing in the day, pray this or that particular prayer, make time for prayer by showing up early, etc. All wonderful ideas and advice — if they’re the gifts you’re given. If they’re not, if it doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, you’re likely to become frustrated or discouraged. Prayer will happen effortlessly if instead of trying to use other people’s gifts, you simply remember you are always in God’s presence, and look for your own gifts — even better, ask for them! Wonderful things happen when you ask God for gifts of prayer. You may even discover that you had the gift you wanted most all along, and just didn’t know what it was.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Ahoada (Nigeria)
Society of Mary, American Region
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