Friday, 6 November 2009

Private Prayer

This is a reprint of a letter I wrote to The Binsey Beacon, my local church newspaper (Anglican).  It was published in the September 2009 edition.  Without it my next blog won't make much sense.

On Private Prayer

He is like a still pool, a perfect reflection - and yet it is the still pool that is the refection of the perfect Him.

Isn’t it amazing how much you can say in just a few words? True prayer isn’t about words, it’s about relationship. It’s about standing with God, at peace with Him as He is at peace with you. The hard part is silencing the noisy ego-self with it’s constant prattling on about the things we see and hear and feel. We need to put our mind in our heart, and not in our brain.

Perhaps you have sat quietly just holding the hand of someone you love deeply. To hold a newborn asleep in your arms. To stand on a mountain, silenced by the splendour, so grateful to have lived to feel that serenity. Standing in prayer is like that - no words, just love

If you know what I mean, then you’ll also know how fleeting these moments are, how infrequently we let ourselves love so deeply, how hard it is to achieve that degree of rapport. It can’t be done on demand, all you can do is to stand there, and wait, and hope.

Sometimes you will have to pour out all your worries and concerns, a great rush of words and emotions, before you can stand in silence - eventually, just to love. Sometimes you stand in silence just hoping for a single word, but it doesn’t come. Sometimes your senses will put you straight into the right mode, a smell, or a sound, or perhaps a loved-ones gentle touch, and there you are.

And even more frequently you can’t get anywhere at all, but the half-memory of the bliss makes you yearn for what you can’t quite recall.

This is where a prayer like The Jesus Prayer can help. A simple prayer, one that you can repeat easily meaning every word, concentrating on just the words, letting the ego exhaust itself, while you put your heart into the prayer. The important thing is the prayer, that is where all your focus should be. Don’t worry about all the things you want God to do, He knows. Don’t worry about all the sins you remember, He already forgave. Don’t worry about listening for His reply, you’ll hear Him when He needs you to.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Say it now. “Lord” - yes, that’s the right attitude - submit. “Jesus Christ” - yes, the God who became like me to suffer as I do and die for me. “Son of God” - yes, the whole Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit. “Have mercy on me” - in the end that’s all I can ask, because I acknowledge that I am “a sinner”. To say the prayer is to assume the attitude of love, to put your mind into your heart, and do nothing but what you are made for - Love. God does all the rest. As Saint Paul says in 1 Thess 5:17:

Pray without ceasing.

Yes - forever...

Love, Richard.

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