“Praying is Living”
I recently took down a special picture from the lounge wall and used it in a church service to highlight a point in the sermon. It was very large and I took great care with it, wrapping it in a cloth and covering it in plastic to protect it.
All went well until I took it back to the car. Armed with a bag, the picture, and my car keys…. I dropped it. The wooden frame was damaged. The next day I bought some very strong wood glue and repaired it. I hung it in its place on the lounge wall, vowing not to move it again (until I move house).
It made me think…. when things go wrong for us, when life falls apart, what or who do we turn to when we need to be made whole again?
We may need help and not know which way to turn and perhaps family or friends can help, or we may just want to be left alone. We may need professional assistance and so we search for the right person.
The wonderful thing about God is that we don’t need to search for God – God is already with us, surrounds us, and is within us. God understands what it is that we are going through and is with us in all our joys and our sorrows. Although we don’t need to search for God, we do need to learn to be aware of his presence. One of the ways to do this is through prayer.
On 2 June we are holding a Circuit Day of Prayer. All our services across the Circuit on that day will be themed on prayer. It will be an opportunity for us to focus on one aspect of prayer, to be creative in exploring new ways of worship, or to turn to traditional liturgies, and in all to reflect on why and how we pray, what we pray for, and when we pray.
Because God is ever-present, he is working within us and through us. Prayer is about God at work within the world and within our lives, and how we respond to that. Prayer can change things.
Henri J M Nouwen said, “Praying is living. It is eating and drinking, action and rest, teaching and learning, playing and working. Praying pervades every aspect of our lives”. ‘With Open Hands’
Look at Psalm 139 – the Psalmist expresses knowledge of God, but also his experience of and relationship with God. The Psalmist draws close to God to seek help and finds that God’s presence surrounds him. Despite his troubles he knows that God will always be with him and will guide him on the path of life. His prayer for help turns into one of worship and adoration.
I like to read the prayers of David Adam, who writes on the subject of Celtic spirituality. He invites us to read through the Psalm and notice that God is with us in six directions. The seventh direction is God within us. He gives the following meditation:
God you know me and my thoughts. v 1
God, you know where I am. v 2-3
God, you know all I say. v 4
God, you encompass me. v 5
God, you are before me. v 4-5
God, you are behind me. v 4-5
God, you are beyond my understanding. v5
God, there is nowhere without you. v 6
God, you are above me. v 7
God, you are beneath me. v 7
God, you are on my right. v 8-9
God, you are on my left. v8-9
God, you are with me even in my darkness. v 10-11
Encompassing God, p 7
The recent Spring Harvest event reminded us that “Our God has an unlimited ear to hear an unlimited number of people.” “There are unlimited reasons to pray. What are our expectations of prayer”? “There is an unlimited opportunity to pray, wherever we are, whenever we choose”. Unlimited, A Manual for Prayer.
The next time you need ‘sticking back together’, come as you are before God, and let his love encompass you through prayer. “Praying is Living”.