This month in all of our church services we are thinking about prayer. We’re doing this because in just a few weeks time it will be the fourth ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ – a global wave of prayer from Ascension to the Day of Pentecost.
We’ll be coming at prayer from a variety of angles: ‘unanswered prayer’ (or when we think God’s not listening), desperate prayer, and prayer for where you live. I hope these talks and the services they are part of will be very helpful to people.
But prayer is often very hard to talk about. Many spiritual writers have expressed what prayer means to them and how to do it, but sometimes it’s very hard to understand what they are really saying.
I think this is because we all pray in different ways. It’s a very individual thing, so we’re going to express it in different ways. And I’m sure all those great writers would agree that we don’t learn to pray just by reading about it or hearing someone else’s thoughts. We discover prayer by doing it. There is no substitute for simply coming before God, opening ourselves to his love, and seeing what happens.
I was reminded recently of a poem by Ann Lewin called 'Disclosure'. The whole poem may be read at:
According to this, prayer is watching, waiting, expectancy. We cannot predict when things will happen. We cannot force them to happen. But if we aren’t ‘there’, we won’t see them happen… except that God also has a habit of surprising us. This doesn’t seem to be the sort of prayer where we reel off huge lists of requests to God (not that there’s anything wrong with praying very specifically for things), but the sort of prayer where we seek the presence of God.
May I encourage you to pray this month – or to pray more? And include this sort of prayer, in which we simply spend time with God and learn to appreciate his presence. You can do this by yourself at any time and in any place, but we will also be opening up St Mary’s for lots of short times of prayer from 30th May until 8th June, mainly early morning (7 am for Morning Prayer) and later evening (9.15 pm for Night Prayer). There will be time simply to be in God’s presence as well as a bit of time to use some words together with other people.
Whatever we do or do not experience in prayer, we can believe in faith that the risen Lord Jesus is with us and ‘through him we… have access to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2.18). Nothing less than access to God himself! What an amazing thought!
With every blessing