By Prakash Jayakumar (January 17, 2022)
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Author C.S.Lewis in his book Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer conveys the importance and the pitfalls of common prayer. He says, “It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that all is holy and ‘big with God’ will soon dwindle into mere sentiment. But if these holy places, things and days cease to remind us, if they obliterate our awareness that all ground is holy and every bush (could we but perceive it) a Burning Bush, then the hallows begin to do harm. Hence, the necessity and perennial danger of ‘religion.’”
What Lewis defines as “religion” can be understood as “ritual” or “liturgy.” One of the great opportunities to pray deeply is during communion. This ordinance is an opportunity for focused prayer as we are intimately reminded of the cost of redemption. The broken bread and wine engage our senses and facilitates intimate prayer with God individually, and as a church community. But this opportunity for intimate prayer can be lost when this sacred sacrament becomes reduced to a mere task conducted at church. Fasting has the ability to shock us out of ritualistic behaviour. The pangs of hunger and depravation awaken us to the sacredness of prayer. As you continue your fast be not surprised if prayer transforms from ritual to radical.