Prayer and the Common Life

by Georgia Harkness

Georgia Harkness was educated at Cornell University, Boston University School of Theology, studied at Harvard & Yale theological seminaries and at Union Theological Seminary of New York. She has taught at Elmira College, Mount Holyoke, and for twelve years was professor of applied theology at Garrett Biblical Institute. In 1950 she became professor of applied theology at the Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, California.

Published by Abingdon Press, New York, Nashville. Copyright by Stone & Pierce 1968. The material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Dr. Harkness discusses first the relation of prayer to the basic structures of Christian faith. The second section book deals with ways of praying and the third with the psychological and social aspects of prayer.


  • Introduction

    A new order of peace and justice, abatement of economic and racial tension, the banishment of ignorance, poverty, and disease will not come about solely through prayer. Nevertheless, without the spiritual and moral resources which prayer exists to heighten, the action required for dealing with such issues is likely to go on being as limited and as misdirected by self-interest as we now see it.

  • Chapter 1: Prayer and Christian Belief

    There is no possibility of prayer unless it can be seen to make sense. Our first task, therefore, is to ask how it fits in with the rest of Christian belief. Dr. Harkness discusses prayer in several theological forms: 1. God is personal; 2. God is the all-wise and ever-present Creator and Ruler of the world; 3. God loves and cares for his human children; 4. God has good purpose and destiny for our lives; 5. God judges and seeks to save us.

  • Chapter 2: Prayer as Adoration and Thanksgiving

    The elements and component parts of prayer. Prayer as adoration, thanksgiving and praise.

  • Chapter 3: Prayer as Confession and Petition

    The elements and component parts of prayer. Prayer as confession and petition.

  • Chapter 4:<B> </B>Prayer as Intercession and Commitment

    The elements and component parts of prayer. Prayer as intercession and commitment.

  • Chapter 5: Prayer as Assurance and Ascription to Christ

    The elements and component parts of prayer. Prayer as assurance and ascription to Christ.

  • Chapter 6: Hindrances to Prayer

    The hindrances to prayer: personal attitudes; the social environment; nervous tension and spiritual dryness.

  • Chapter 7: Ways of Praying

    The problem of method; times and places; in the morning; at bedtime; grace before meals.

  • Chapter 8: Private Devotions

    The period of private devotions; meditation and devotional aids; self-examination; prayer; posture and diction; distractions and wandering thoughts; the test of achievement.

  • Chapter<B> </B>9: Congregational Worship

    Congregational must be centered upon God, appropriate, unhurried, combined with alertness and receptivity in the worshiper; it must be intellectually sincere and accompanied by active service to God and other persons. It must be related to the total life of commitment to God in faith. Beauty, symbolism, vocal self-expression, worship by radio are discussed.

  • Chapter 10: Prayer and Peace of Mind

    Prayer and peace of mind; psychology and prayer; obstacles to peace of mind; prayer and frustration.

  • Chapter 11: Fear, Loneliness, and Grief

    What stands in the way of happiness and peace of mind? Fear; Loneliness; Grief.

  • Chapter 12: Sin and Guilt

    Liberal thought is often seen to be too marginal a concept. The reality, the pervasiveness, and seriousness of sin cannot be overstated, but needs to be stated in a context which relates it to our total psychic life: Sin and finiteness; guilt and feeling guilty; forgiveness, human and divine.

  • Chapter 13: Prayer and the Peace of the World

    Praying for peace: The requirements for peace; prayer and works of good will. Of all the many things the world now needs, none is more needed than an upsurge of vital, God-centered, intelligently-grounded prayer.