Illustration: Prayer

Gordon MacDonald, in his book Ordering Your Private World, writes these words: "We live in a society that is reasonably organized. Put a letter in the box, and it usually ends up where you want it to go. Order an item from a catalog, and it usually comes to you in the right size, color and model. Ask someone to provide you a service, and it is reasonable to expect that it will work out that way. In other words, we are used to results in response to our arrangements. That is why prayer can be discouraging for some of us. How can we predict the result? We are tempted to abandon prayer as a viable exercise and try getting the results ourselves.

"But the fact is that my prayer life cannot be directly tied to the results I expect or demand. I have had many opportunities by now to see the things I want God to do in response to my prayers can be unhealthy for me. I have begun to see that worship and intercession are far more the business of aligning myself with God's purposes than asking Him to align with mine.

Henri Nouwen says it best when he writes: "Prayer is a radical conversion of all our mental processes because in prayer we move away from ourselves, our worries, preoccupations and self-gratification—and direct all that we recognize as ours to God in the simple trust that through His love all will be made new."