Prayer 2017

1 June 2017

We are currently in the Novena, those nine days of prayer to which the Archbishops have called us to from Ascension to Pentecost. And, we are engaged at St Mary’s on a number of initiatives related to this.

Prayer is very much a time where we talk to God and say sorry... seek to change... Ask for things... worry about things... tell God we’re frightened... lonely…

Of course, we should ask for things, apologise and all the other things we know prayer is all about. We need also to remember God through prayer in the good times, times when we are thankful.

But as well as in times of asking and in times of being thankful, God is gracious enough, generous enough, loves us so much, that he wants us to simply receive too.

As Rowan Williams has said: "The point of praying is to open yourself up to God so God can do what he wants with you. You come with empty hands, as silent as you can be and say, 'Over to you'. So you could say [prayer helps] make you the person God wants you to be – in the full awareness that that might not be quite the person you think you want to be."

So, as well as saying sorry and asking for things or being thankful – on behalf of ourselves, and on behalf of others - God tells us we can also simply be still. To, at some point, stop talking so we can receive what God has for us. To minister to us. Particularly in times of tragedy, fear, anxiety, confusion…

That’s not to say we will actually ‘hear’ anything... or feel anything. But we will be opening ourselves up to those words we hear in the great blessing at the end of church services... we open ourselves up to the Peace of God which passes all understanding.

In the simple act of waiting, we are opening ourselves up to becoming more the person God wants us to be; knows we are. Of course, it may be difficult to find a place, a time, privacy. It may be difficult to look like you are praying.

Wherever we are whatever we are doing, we can find ourselves in a place of grace. We don’t have to think about anything if we don’t want to. Don’t have to make some kind of elaborate prayer or anything. All we have to do – whatever we are doing, wherever we are – is to remember God once in a while. Remember he longs to be part of our lives, wants to offer us his Grace.

Grace is what works in us to bring us hope, healing, peace, a sense of reconciliation. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and the Gift of God. It is found at the heart of prayer, of fellowship with one another. It is found in Hymns, it is found in the act of kneeling or even in the lighting of a candle. It is found in tears. It is found in the Eucharist – Holy Communion. It is a mystery. But it’s freely available. To all of us. Grace is what brings us home - to our true home in Christ.

It cannot be asked for - certainly not demanded, nor fretted over. But it can be waited for. It can be waited for with an open heart and open hands. It is rooted in love, stretches back through the centuries and stretches on into eternity. Through grace (as St Paul says) we do not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear: Through grace we receive a spirit of adoption. Through grace we find ourselves able to cry Abba Father – call God our beloved father. Because it is that very spirit of grace which bears witness with our human, fallen, frail, flawed spirit – that despite all our faults and failings we are, indeed, God’s children.

May you have a blessed Pentecost and Trinity Season

Amen