01 Jun Vicars’ Blog June – Prayer without Limits
Awaken me to your presence,
Alert me to your love,
Affirm me in your peace.
Open to me your way,
Reveal to me your joy,
Enfold me in your light,
For my heart is ready,
Lord, my heart is ready.
by David Adam
What is prayer? How do we pray? What do we pray for? Who do we pray with? We may have many questions about prayer. This year, as a church, we are asking a big question ‘How can we be a praying church?’ What would it look like? Maybe it would simply be that our first reaction to any good news shared with one another in our congregations was to praise and thank God. What if our first reaction to hearing someone’s trouble or difficulty was to say, ‘Shall we pray about that?’ and to pray there and then. Being a praying church is probably not about feeling we are brilliant at praying, nor that we always know what to pray, nor that we can pray beautiful prayers. Rather, that we have confidence in God who wants us to pray, hears us when we pray, and we can trust him with answering in his way and in his timing.
In June, we will be focusing on prayer in our services. We encourage everyone to take up some new prayer venture
during the month. Try Praying booklets will be available in church which guide us through 7 days of prayer and is ideal for beginners. There is also the Pilgrim devotional on the Lord’s Prayer and there is a selection of books on prayer for those who want to find out more. The Archbishop of Canterbury says ‘All over the world every day, Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer reshapes our lives in sorrow and in joy’.
These and other daily guides are helpful for praying on our own. We may feel closer to God in a quiet room in our house, in church, in our garden or out in the country. Let’s find our best prayer place for personal prayer. David Adam says, ‘Every now and again our eyes are opened, and we see beyond the narrowness of day to day vision.’ Such new vistas often come before us at a point of crisis in our lives. In prayer we enter more deeply into the situations that are going on around us. Prayer will not rescue us from the situation but will help us to see more clearly and to recognise that we are not alone in it. He thinks of prayer as an entry into the presence of God, like an open gate. Sometimes the gate will open in an unexpected way, like an automatic door in front of us. Other times we must work at it, like opening a stiff gate in the countryside. Other times, we must seize the opportunity when it is offered to us. He concludes ‘the gate of glory is already open, and he is inviting us to enter in. He is with us and calling us to adventure with him.’ Adoration” is the word for personally worshiping God for who he is and what he has done for us and has in store for us.
We can also pray with others. With a friend, with our husband or wife and definitely with our children. I find it helpful to pray with a friend or two friends making a prayer Triplet, because it helps me to stay focused and lift my mind from my own needs to the needs of others. “Intercession” is the word for prayer when we reach out to our neighbours in love. Sometimes prayer is easy, sometimes difficult, but always, Tim Chester assures us ‘God the Father loves to hear us pray’.
We also pray corporately, together in our Services on Sundays, and there is a spiritual power and a unity when we do this. God loves to guide us in prayer by his Holy Spirit and then we pray what is on God’s heart. This is all a taster of what is in store for us on this adventure of faith. And especially this year as our church has made ‘Being a Praying church’ a Vision priority for 2019. Let us pray!
A final encouragement from Pete Grieg, founder of the 24/7
Prayer movement, who has three guidelines on prayer:
‘Keep it simple, keep it real and keep it up’.
Jonny & Cathy