Belinda Groves – 17 September 2017

Dear Friends

“Lord, teach us how to pray.”

This was the request, in Luke, that led to Jesus teaching his disciples ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and in our preaching series we have tried to reveal some of the riches of this prayer; that God has many children, that we together belong to a holy God, that our holy and wonderful God is re-creating our world, and that we are invited to share in this creative work by feeding the hungry, making forgiveness the mark of all our relationships and avoiding behaviour not directed or inspired by love.

We have learnt a lot about prayer, and yet there is always more to learn! Perhaps some of the most significant things I have been reminded of over the last few weeks are:

If prayer is dialogue between myself and God, then, like any relationship, I must spend time on this relationship and work out how to talk about things that matter. It is good to experiment with times and places that work best for you.

Mark Barrett writes, “A friend always prayers on the seashore…Another friend has a ‘safe’ place she goes to in the woods when times are difficult…A third person I know loves to walk the city streets, finding that the combination of company and aloneness that the street provides is perfect for prayer…”

But once you have found a place, commit yourself to meeting God there regularly.

Secondly prayer is less about reciting a list of needs (though God wants us to share our needs with him) and more about listening to God, spending time in God’s presence.

Kate Compston writes, “Increasingly, prayer seems to be a waiting – and often, a goal-less waiting; it is simply an end in itself. If some resolution, insight or peace comes, it comes as a gift, not as something I have angled for. I was at a loss to explain this to anyone until I remembered that the French for ‘to wait’ is ‘attendre’. Then it became clear that waiting is giving one’s complete and undivided attention…”

The most significant thing I have learnt, however, when I have struggled with prayer is that God only asks me to be myself! That the best prayers are the ones where I have been as honest as I can about who I am and what I really need. There is a wonderful story told about a tumbler who would come to a cathedral and did not know how to pray, all he could so was tumble; so he stood on his hands with his feet in the air before the altar. Each of us prays as best we can!

The Men’s Book group read an article on prayer this week and Aron and I were very struck by the C.S. Lewis quote that headed the article, “The prayer preceding all prayers is, ‘May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou I speak to.’” Amen.

Grace and peace from one disciple among others, still learning to pray.