Bishop Graham spent Monday evening at St John’s teaching on prayer. Members of St John’s and St Mary’s as well as a number of other churches found what he said exceptionally helpful. And he said that our cakes were the best he’s had on his ‘road tour’.
Here is a summary of what he said.
3 initial points: All pray – seems a basic human instinct; All of us do it badly – we remain beginners and learners; and there is Something mysterious about prayer, how and why God answers it.
His focus was prayer when alone, but immediately he qualified that by saying prayer is always a response to God, what we say is the second word. We also join in prayer going on throughout the world, involving the whole church. Christians always pray ‘in Christ’, ie joining in Jesus’ prayer for us.
Using one of the great prayers recorded in the Bible from Nehemiah 1.1-11, he reflected on ‘seeing’ things (in Nehemiah, bad news) in a different way. The prayer steers us in the following directions.
- Look UP in praise, to the One to whom we pray. We remind ourselves who He is and what He is like.
- Look AROUND with searing honesty, in my life, my neighbourhood and the world, usually combining lament and thanksgiving.
- Look INSIDE facing the reality on my part, that I have or could have…
- Look BACK remembering that God did something before, so he can do it again.
- Look FORWARD conscious that as we pray, so plans begin to emerge to allow us to see things in a new way.
Prayer certainly changes us and changes something more. It’s as though God has woven our prayers into the way he orders our world, choosing to do things with us.
Helpful Apps and Websites: CofE Daily Prayer app, Prayermate app. justpray.co.uk, 24-7prayer.co.uk, prayersonthemove.com.