Some Serious Thoughts on Prayer

·          Today is the day where we’re invited to examine carefully our whole prayer life and ask:

·                     How important a part of my life is prayer?

·                     What does my prayer life look like?

·                     If my prayer life were a house would it collapse with the first shower of rain?

·                     If praying was a crime could enough evidence be collected to convict me?

 No journey into Lent is complete without some fairly serious reflection upon our prayer life... and that goes for each of us.  

·                     Richard Foster, who has written some brilliant material on prayer and our prayer connections with God, says most of the lives of most people are, basically, ordinary.

·                     We all eat, sleep, work, relate, have problems, get sick, make mistakes, take showers, complain, face difficulties and get annoyed.

·                     (And I haven’t mentioned acne, cellulite or middle age spreads).

·                     Much of our lives include the ordinary, the basic and the simple.

·                     Foster says: Therefore, begin to pray where you are in life: in the ordinary; while doing the basics. Pray the simple aspects of who are what you are. 

If people painted a picture of their lives and represented their prayer life in some tangible, delineable way,

·                     I would wager that, in most cases, their prayer life would  be represented as being separate, or set apart from the remainders of their lives

·                     Here is my life and over here you can see my “prayer life”

·                     Now all you prayer warriors and budding monastics will immediately leap into pulpits and start saying prayer should involve, quiet, separation and solitude and contemplative times... aloneness, resting in Jesus

·                     And you’d be right! But the point I’m making is this:

·                     For most of us, our prayer life is a tiny, separate, secluded, enshrined spiritual hidey-hole amid the huge secular open spaces of our lives.

·                     And more than that. When challenged about our prayer times we undertake to make our prayer life even more separate, secluded, enshrined and isolated from the rest of our lives 

Richard Foster teaches that   by praying the prayer of the Ordinary Things in Life we will be led to do the exact opposite

·                     Our prayers no longer will be confined to a separate sanitised section of our life but will become an integral part of our ordinary every day lives

·                     Please note: I am  NOT saying we shouldn’t have quiet time; private prayer; a special place to pray; or meditation or a list of intercessions, or pray in the Spirit

·                     Rather – that  we should  introduce prayer (and Jesus!!) to the ordinary every day aspects of our life 

Here’s a short shopping list of practical ways we can allow our prayer time to permeate our ordinary lives

·                     When we’re stuck in the line at the supermarket check out let us pray:

·                     Pray for the woman struggling with that difficult child. The check-out girl who is being harassed

·                     Those people in front of us who seem to have so little. Let us pray for ourselves who seem to demand so much of the world’s resources 

On our daily  walk or run, or playing golf, let us pray for our street, the people that  we pass by; the ones who never speak to us; the ones we never see because  they are shut in

·                     Let us pray actively for the traffic racing by; anxious faces in cars; angry drivers; wet roads

·                     We all hear the Rescue helicopter taking off; let us pray for the crew, the mission, the people being cared for; the dangers involved

·                     Let us bring active prayer into the active parts of our lives. 

Let us pray thru the ordinary things that happen in our home.

·                     Let us gives thanks before we eat. Let us pray, occasionally at least, as a family.

·                     Let us make a point of praying over our children each night as they sleep. 

As we read the newspaper: let us pray for world events and for national leaders

·                     Pray for  troubled parts of our world

·                     Let us, frequently, give thanks for basic things in our lives: peace, rest, food, safety, family support of others, friends, love

·                     Let us begin to practice the art of Praise – let us praise God as we work, drive, walk or lie in bed.

·                     There are a million ways we can  pray  thru the ordinary aspects of our life  

Here’s a radical thought about prayer.

             St Paul wrote:  whether you eat or drink or whatever you do; do everything for the glory of God.  (1 Cor 10)

·                     In this way our daily work can become acted out prayer. It can become a wordless offering of love to God

·                     Whether we teach, farm, study, labour, clean, cook, lead or follow, we can allow our labour to become a prayerful offering to God

·                     Br Lawrence, that enormous practitioner of the presence of God, did just that as he waded thru mountains of filthy plates in his monastery kitchen.

·                     He presented this dirty, simple, ordinary, basic work to God as a prayerful offering and in doing so experienced the Presence of God right there. 

Do you think there would be a difference in your life if, instead of just washing up, or teaching a lesson or slashing a paddock, or writing a report, or giving an opinion, or building a wall you did this as a prayerful offering to God?

            * Would it change your attitude? Would it change the way you went about that work? 

Praying via the ordinary things of our life is, in no way meant, to replace or demean other forms of prayer – indeed it is meant to support and compliment such things

·                     Paul said: pray without ceasing - pray continually.

·                     Praying the simple aspects of life helps us do just that. An almost continuous  ripple of prayer emanating from the ordinary things we are doing, experiencing and saying 

Simple Prayer often is ignored in books written about prayer.

·                     Perhaps this is because devout writers fear the self-centred aspects of Simple Prayer. 

·                     It IS easy to focus too much on self and we are always in danger of rationalising our experiences to hear only what we want to hear.

·                     This is a little like human growth.

·                     As babies, virtually all our desires are for self; food, comfort, affection, attention.

·                     As we grow into adulthood our focus turns away, at least in part, from self, to the needs and considerations of others. At least, it should. 

Simple Prayer is like this. In the beginning we may well be the subject and centre of our prayers.

·               But in God’s time, if we are open to His Spirit, a slow revolution begins in our heart.

·                     Almost imperceptibly, there is a shift in our centre of spiritual gravity.

·                     We pass from thinking of God as part of OUR life to a realisation that we’re part of HIS life.

·                     Wondrously and mysteriously God moves from the perimeter of our prayer experience to the centre.

A conversion of the heart takes place.  A transformation of the spirit.