Learning to pray

Daily Reading for January 14 • Richard Meux Benson, Religious, 1915, and Charles Gore, Bishop of Worcester, of Birmingham, and of Oxford, 1932 (transferred)

The more we pray for others, the more we shall pray for ourselves. Praying for others, instead of hindering us in prayer for ourselves, will lead us to pray the more for ourselves. We may perhaps learn, by praying for others, what is meant by prayer, and what its value is, and how to practice it; and if we have learned the meaning, the value, and the work of prayer, we shall try and put it in force for ourselves. Many often dream over their own religious condition, and fancy they are praying. It is when we pray for ourselves with the same definiteness as we should pray for an object external to ourselves that we are really praying. Intercessions for others will teach us to pray for ourselves. . . .

It is one thing to feel annoyance at the faults of others and to criticize them in conversation. It is quite another thing to fall secretly before God and ask his forgiveness for the sins we know, and his grace that those we know may be brought to serve him more truly. We shall leave off being censorious in conversation if we are earnest in intercession. Here is a very evident blessing which comes immediately to ourselves from the practice of prayer for the unconverted. What sin is so common as the sin of finding fault with others? When you are tempted to find fault and complain of them, be silent and pray for them. . . . When we kneel, as it were, alongside of our brother in the light of God’s presence, we shall see our own faults at least as clearly as his. If we pray really for him, we shall desire that he may attain the Divine standard of holiness—not the puny standard of our own imagination.

From The Manual of Intercessory Prayer arranged by the Rev. R. M. Benson, M.A. (London: J. T. Hayes, 1889).

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