On Prayer

“Prayer is often regarded, even by genuinely religious people, as chiefly a means to various ends; it is a way of getting things done. That is true, so far as it goes, but, like so many half-truths, it is in practice as misleading as a complete falsehood. Prayer which is mainly occupied with a result to be obtained is comparatively powerless to obtain results. The real significance of prayer lies in the fact that it is the effort and attitude of the soul which makes possible the unity of the human spirit with God; it is therefore itself the supreme aim of human existence.

The proper relation in thought between prayer and conduct is not that conduct is supremely important and prayer may help it, but that prayer is supremely important and conduct tests it.
If the prayer is real, the conduct inevitably follows.

The proper relation in thought between prayer and conduct is not that conduct is supremely important and prayer may help it, but that prayer is supremely important and conduct tests it. If the prayer is real, the conduct inevitably follows. Indeed, in many cases the very reality of prayer will shorten the time allotted to prayer, so strong will be the impulse of love to act for the well-being of others. But let any man who finds it thus with him take heed. The life with God is the supreme concern, and the source of all power to serve. It is only the man who loves God with all his being who will be able to love his neighbour as himself.”

William Temple (1881-1944) followed in his father’s footsteps, right into Lambeth Palace.  His father, Frederick Temple( 1821-1902), was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1896-1902. William Temple served as the 98th Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 to his death in 1944 at the age of 61. He is best remembered for his strong sense of social justice and his benevolent respect for the beliefs of others, which had its roots in his theological understanding that Christ is the author of all that is good in all beliefs. This piece on prayer is from his book ‘Christus Veritas’.