When we pray 2
Had we been meeting together this Sunday, we would have been using the service outline attached to these notes. You will see that I had planned for us to look at prayer under three headings which I called: “The Big Ask”, “Praying for others” and “ Getting to know you”. We would have read the related scripture; talked together; sung songs; and prayed.
In our present circumstances we cannot be physically together but perhaps instead of watching Countryfile on Sunday evening, you might follow the attached service and we can be Sunday@Seven in our own homes, in some way, together.
Here’s the service sheet with the songs and prayers:
I had hoped for a good ‘interactive’ time together. Here’s a few thoughts (in no particular order) which I felt might get us talking and thinking about when, why and how we pray…..
Prayer came quite naturally to people in times gone by. There was an acceptance of a spiritual world running along side the physical one. Praying was a means of communicating with the spiritual, just as today we might chat to our neighbour over the garden-fence. In today’s western society it is not seen as a natural, everyday, activity – it’s something religious people do! Though in times of trouble, such as now, an increasing number do turn to prayer.
As Christians, as people of faith, praying is something which we do, but it does not always come naturally. We find that at times we have to work at it. But we do recognise that prayer is our communication channel with the Creator God. We ask for things, we say thank you, we talk about what we are doing, we say sorry when things have gone wrong. For some it’s an act of last resort; a cry out to God in desperation. It’s the divine telephone – the hot-line to God!
However, if we get ourselves into a regular rhythm of prayer, then prayer can become something much more than that. We will find a deeper and weightier relationship developing which takes us closer to God’s heart. Jesus really will become our best friend, with whom we can share all aspects of our lives.
The Bible is full of prayer stories when man and God made contact – as individuals and on a corporate basis. At first, God and Adam built a very easy relationship – communicating came naturally. Then that serpent came along and the relationship got strained; conversation got difficult – not least because man hid from God in shame. But the situation gradually improved and Genesis 4: 26 tells us that “At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” – the first prayer meeting! The lines of communication had been re-established and they remain open – endorsed and sponsored through Jesus.
A thin place
The word ‘pray’ means to ask, to plead. But it’s not all about asking for things – for ourselves or on behalf of others. Prayer is the contact point; the so called ‘thin place’ where the veil parts and we find the realisation of relationship with our Father God.
We don’t need to be ‘wordy’, in fact we don’t always need words – Romans 8: 26. The special ‘prayer’ words which seem to appear often in our formal worship prayers are not necessary. Our personal prayers are us – just as we are – relating to God. “It’s me, Lord, I’d like to talk with you.”
When asked “Teach us to pray” Jesus gave us a prayer which can be used on every occasion, in every circumstance – Matthew 6. It’s a prayer of adoration and an asking prayer – to put us in a right place with our Father God.
Jesus said “ask in my name and it will be given you”. Is it as simple as it sounds?
A good habit
Jesus and others talk of being in a state of habitual prayer. What is our prayer habit? Is it for Sundays or every day? Rhythm and repetition of set liturgy in public worship are found to be helpful to many. Others prefer informality and the quiet personal space. What do you find suits you?
Jesus often went to a quiet place to pray. He said pray in secret. Do you have a personal tabernacle? Somewhere away from the busyness – no distractions.
Prayer time or quiet time – what ever we call it – a time for making contact with God. Reading scripture, making or listening to music, out in the big outdoors of God’s creation, or just being still. All these things may allow us or be helpful for us when seeking contact with the Almighty One. It should not always be a one way conversation. If we do all the talking we are not giving God a chance to speak. Listen, relax into God’s space.
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) said: “In quiet prayer talk to God if you can. If you can’t, just stay there; let God look at you, and don’t worry about anything.” Amen
Sunday@Seven is led by Nigel Silvester. It’s an opportunity for more informal worship with space for people to have their say. In ‘normal’ times it’s held on the last Sunday of every month. For next month’s ‘Yes, He lives!’ please press here. For more by Nigel please follow this link.
Thank You Nigel. I agree that prayer does not always come naturally and we have to work quite hard at it. This appears to be even more of the case at this time, as with so many of our lives impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is difficult to know what to prioritise. As well as the people who are ill and the families of those who have lost loved ones, we have to remember NHS workers, those whose businesses are closed down or unable to work, people isolated from the community and those who are struggling to cope with their lives put on hold. Sometimes we prioritise our own needs before the needs of others, but is this natural and is it correct? Perhaps it is all about how we settle ourselves and get into the right rhythm.
It struck us even more last night when going through the service sheet how relevant the verses from 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 were at this time.”…no rain, locusts devouring the land,plague among the people..” (Coronavirus among us; bare shelves in supermarkets). ..”my people who are called by my name should humble themselves and pray…” (don’t be proud, don’t stand on dignity, this is a time to pray for ourselves, our families, our communities, the health services, etc) All of us are touched in these troubled times.We may not be able to physically come together but we can come together in prayer. Jesus said where one or two are gathered together in my name, I am there with them…Nigel S.