Prayer/Being with God – week 4        menu

We all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives – altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter.  Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the loving and bitter.  But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture.  We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything.  That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well.  And we pray by it...  We will never have pure enough motives, or be good enough, or know enough in order to pray rightly.  We simply must set all these things aside and begin praying.  In fact, it is in the very act of prayer itself – the intimate, ongoing interaction with God – that these matters are cared for in due time – Richard Foster.

The following questions need reflection and could be spread over a few days.  Read, and mull over, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

1.  Spend time honestly assessing your relationship with God.  Is it:
     you come to church occasionally and might pray occasionally if there is need
     or somewhere in between and, if so, where on the continuum?
your first thought in the morning and last thought at night, is about God, and there isn’t a moment in between that you are not conversing, seeking guidance, listening for a response, sharing your life 

2.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 Would your life be any different if you followed this instruction from Paul’s epistle?  If so, how, and how might you be able to achieve this?  

3.  Looking overleaf at the different types of prayer (my thanks to Amy for finding something on paper), are there any aspects you do not pray?  Do you think the different type of prayer you use reflects your view of God?  Do you think the frequency of prayer reflects your love of God?

4.  Reading Psalm 122:6-9, why might we be instructed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?  At Morning Prayer (Monday – Friday at 9am for half an hour, all are very welcome) in addition to reading scripture we are following the 100 days of praying for peace and hope in the world (On 4th August 1918, George V called for a National Day of Prayer for Peace) which will lead us up to armistice.  We also intercede as we are led.  It truly is a time of blessing Have you thought of joining us?  Is there a time in the day you could set aside for intercession, perhaps with others?

5.  How might you rewrite the Lord ’s Prayer in your own words?  For instance, for some the word ‘Father’ may have negative connotations, so you might put ‘Our ever-loving and nurturing creator’: what difference does it make finding and using your own words and descriptions? Do you think your words might change from day to day, or through the years?   Is there anything you’d like to add, or which you think could be omitted? 

Prayer   written by Bonaventure (1217-74) Please find a quiet place, light a candle if you desire, pray this prayer and rest, in silence, in the presence of God

Lord Jesus Christ, pierce my soul with thy love so that I may always long for thee alone, who art the bread of angels and the fulfilment of the soul’s deepest desires.  May my heart always hunger and feed upon thee, so that my soul may be filled with the sweetness of thy presence.  May my soul thirst for thee, who art the source of life, wisdom, knowledge, light and all the riches of God our Father.  May I always seek and find thee, think upon thee, speak to thee and do all things for the honour and glory of thy holy name.  Be always my only hope, my peace, my refuge and my help in whom my heart is rooted so that I may never be separated from thee.

If you have any questions or suggestions please speak to a member of the preaching team or leave a note in the box at the back of church. 

Different types of Prayer

PRAISE                Looking at who God is and giving him praise

THANKFULNESS            Looking at what God has done for us and thanking him for it

CONFESSION     Telling God about where we have failed him, the sins we have committed (this could be on behalf of a group to which you belong even if you were not directly culpable), and asking him for his forgiveness.

INTERCESSION     Specifically praying on behalf of other people – standing in the gap and bringing people we care for to God.

PETITION        Asking God to do something for us or for others

TRANSFORMATION     Prayer that results in ourselves being changed; such as promising God that we will do something, committing ourselves to his service, letting go of the things that trouble us, forgiving others.

PRAYER OF DESOLATION    A cry of despair from the heart: honest, real, prayer that has nowhere else to turn but to God (and when we can’t pray we are told Romans 8:26-27 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.)

BLESSING    Speaking words of God’s blessing on people

CONTEMPLATION    The more meditative, silent forms of prayer, listening to God

Praying is no easy matter.  It demands a relationship in which you allow the other to enter into the very
centre of your person, to speak there, to touch the sensitive core of your being, and allow the other to see
so much that you would rather leave in darkness.  And when do you really want to do that?  Perhaps you
would let the other come across the threshold to say something, to touch something, but to allow the other
into that place where your life gets its form, that is dangerous and calls for defence.  
The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clenched fists.  This image shows the tension, the
desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear...  When you dare to let go and surrender
one of those many fears, you hand relaxes and your palms spread out in a gesture of receiving.  You must
have patience, of course, before your hands are completely open and their muscles relaxed...
Then you feel a bit of new freedom, and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and
the people around you.  Praying becomes effortless, inspired and lively or peaceful and quiet.  Then you
recognise the festive and the modest as moments of prayer.  You begin to suspect that to pray is to live... 
 Henri Nouwen