Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Prayer

Recently, I've been reading a few of Emerson's essays. They are a bit difficult to get through at times, but I absolutely love many of his ideas. I found one such gem in his essay entitled Self-Reliance. He says:
"Prayer is the contemplation of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul."
This reminded me of something that C.S. Lewis said. "[Prayer] doesn't change God--it changes me."

 I usually think of prayer as a time to come closer to God, to thank Him for his blessings, to open the secret chambers of my heart to Him, and express my need for His help. At night, it helps me reflect on the day's events and make a little sense of them. In the morning, it gears me up for a new day and motivates me to do my work better and more faithfully than I did yesterday.

The more I think of these two quotes in conjunction with each other, the more my perspective on prayer changes. Prayer is not just about building a continously stronger relationship with our Heavenly Father, although this is very important. I think it is also to help us see things, based on our faith and attentiveness, from God's point of view. This is, indeed, the "highest point of view", is it not? When we see things from a greater eternal perspective, I think it can very easily cause us to behold our lives a little more jubilantly. And this, in turn, leads to the personal change that Lewis spoke of.

Thanks for reading my little Thursday Thought! Do you have any insights on the power of prayer? Send them my way!


  1. Beautiful.

    My parents have a copy of that painting. When I was a child I always thought it was my grandpa. I love the simplicity of the painting -- and the profound gratitude for the bread.

    Thank you for linking.



    1. I love it too! I want to hang it in my home someday. So here's a random fact--I learned that it's actually not a painting. It's a very old, tinted photograph. Crazy, huh? It totally looks painted!

  2. Sarah,

    Perhaps you have already read the following online "article", but I thought others might enjoy reading the story behind the famous image known simply as "Grace":

    The True Story of "Graace" - a much-loved world famous picture

    Back in the year of 1918, a bearded, saintly, old man, with foot-scrapers to sell, called on Eric Enstrom at his photography studio in the tiny mining town of Bovey, Minnesota. From this chance encounter a world famous photographic study was created. Today Enstrom's picture "Grace", showing the elderly peddler with head bowed in a mealtime prayer of thanksgiving, is known and loved throughout the world.

    "There was something about the old gentleman's face that immediately impressed me. I saw that he had a kind face... there weren't any harsh lines in it," Enstrom said in recalling the 1918 visit of Charles Wilden to his studio.

    It happened that Enstrom, at that time, was preparing a portfolio of pictures to take with him to a convention of the Minnesota Photographer's Association. "I wanted to take a picture that would show people that even though they had to do without many things because of the war they still had much to be thankful for," Enstom said.

    On a small table, Enstrom placed a family book, some spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife on the table. Then he had Wilden pose in an manner of prayer... praying with folded hands to his brow before partaking of a meager meal.

    To bow his head in prayer seemed to be characteristic of the elderly visitor, Enstrom recalled, for he struck the pose very easily and naturally.

    As soon as the negative was developed, Enstrom was sure he had something special. A picture that seemed to say, "This man doesn't have much of earthly goods, but he has more than most people because he has a thankful heart." That Enstrom's camera had captured "something special" is an appraisal widely shared.

    Today many "Grace" pictures hang in homes, restaurants and in churches across America. Prints have also been shipped to mission stations and other places around the world.

    The early "Grace" pictures were printed either in black and white, or in sepia. Later, Enstrom's daughter, Mrs. Rhoda Nyberg, of Coleraine, Minnesota, began hand-painting them in oils, and interest in the picture mounted.

    Enstrom remembers that his best customers for the picture in the early 1920's were people traveling through Bovey, Minnesota who saw the picture in his studio window. As soon as one framed print was sold, he'd make another to take its place.

    After nearly a half-century as a professional photographer, a career dating back to 1900 in Minneapolis and to 1907 at Bovey, Minnesota, Enstrom listed "Grace" as the best of the thousands of pictures he has taken.

    Original text from