Everyone else knows how to pray!
You are not alone if you think this. Prayer is something we are often not taught. How often do we sit in church looking at other people and wondering what it is they are doing in their silent prayer? They always look so holy. And here we are, trying to say something to God . . .
Don't give up
Prayer is like every human skill. It is something that we need to learn how to do. We can use books, or ask a friend, or seek the guidance of the Minister. But, in many ways, prayer is something that we do have to find out about for ourselves. God has made us all different, and so we will all pray differently. We will also pray differently in different situations.
What is prayer?
Prayer is the way that we keep in touch with God. Many people think they can change God: 'If I ask really nicely, then God will do what I want.' For others, prayer is a form of magic: 'If I say it in the right way, then God will answer.' Neither of these is true. Prayer is the way in which we open up to God, so that God can work in us. And God does always answer, although not always in the way we want.
What is prayer like?
If you love someone, you keep in touch. Prayer is the same. If we love God, we stay in touch. We talk to God and we listen to God. It's a conversation.
Getting in touch
To begin our conversation with God we need to get ready: to come consciously into God's presence, to sit in a way that is at once comfortable and attentive. Then we need to calm down. Normally our minds are full of distractions; thoughts just keep happening. One way of calming down is to listen to our breathing, the regular pattern of it. Another way is to repeat over and over, 'Be still and know that I am God.' After a while, we settle down, our minds are less full, and then we are ready to pray.
When we are calm, then we can start to pray. Sometimes this means continuing to listen, just letting the awareness of God enfold us, like loving arms - we don't need to say anything else, the contact is enough. At other times, we need to say something. This can be anything: 'Dear Father . . .' or 'Hello, God, it's me again. . .' If you are going to say something (whether aloud or silently), then say what you want to say. God doesn't stand on ceremony.
Having the conversation
We need to take time to say what we want: 'Thank you.' 'Sorry.' 'Guess what?''I love you.' Take time to listen - to your breathing, to your thoughts and feelings. Be aware of yourself and don't push it. Give God time to speak to you. Conversations take time . . . and patience.
Keep in touch
Traditionally, Christians pray every morning and evening. The more we are in touch, the better it gets. The more time we take, the more rewarding it can be. As we pray regularly, the more natural prayer becomes.
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, and He teaches us today -
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
This group meets fortnightly and takes the form of contemplative prayer for about twenty minutes moving into a time of general prayer - for our church situation, personal situations known to us and then wider world concerns. For those who have not experienced contemplative prayer it is a time of silence in which we can literally "Be still in the presence of the Lord".
The Prayer Circle staretd again on Monday 16th January 2017 at 7.30 in 24 Edgehead Village, and fortnightly thereafter.
For more information contact Marylin Lacey on 01875 320938
or email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our Prayer Diary for a daily structure to your prayers, available through email or pick up a copy in one of the churches.