We recently held a Prayer Event at St George’s which was supported by a number of groups. You can read about it in our Winter Edition of Focus. It is timely therefore, that we should receive this article to share with you from The Church of Scotland Mission and Discipleship Council this month too.
And when you pray…. Matthew 6:7a
“How do you eat yours?” That was the question in a certain egg-shaped confectionery advert. The implication being that there is no right way to do it, but rather it’s about how you best experience the egg.
How do you pray?
Perhaps you haven’t really thought about it too much. Perhaps it’s now hard to concentrate because you’re thinking about chocolate, but regardless of appetite, past experiences, how we wrap it up or try to explain it, prayer can be rather confusing. It can often be a mystery. It can at times seem like a chore. It can even be a blessed relief.
So then, how do you pray?
Are you a morning person? Do you greet the sunrise with thanks and praise to our God? Do you utter hopeful words and try and live them throughout the day to come? Are you more spontaneous? Do you respond to life with a ‘breath prayer’, off the cuff, as life makes you dance to its tune and in each moment you seek the steadying hand of our Creator and Sustainer?
Perhaps you find yourself needing space. Like a free-diver coming up for air after plumbing the depths. Maybe you carve out some time in your day to be still and know the presence of God. You may prefer to reflect on your day in the presence of God, as was the practice of Ignatius of Loyola, who gave us the daily examen – a way of praying that helps us recognise God’s presence in the midst of the day just lived.
The practice of prayer is part of the lifeblood of our faith. We may find ourselves in the darkest of circumstances, when prayer is the only thing that we can turn to for comfort. We might see prayer as that thing we do together on a Sunday, or as the words said on our behalf by a minister or worship leader. Maybe it is the one thing that keeps us going, those times when we can just let God know how we are feeling. It might even be that thing that happens by accident or that we’re unaware of until, looking back on a time of quiet, perhaps with a cup of tea or watching the world go by from our living room window, we realise that in the stillness, God was there the whole time.
Whatever your habit or preference may not really matter. What is important is that we are having the conversation, that we are opening ourselves up to God in whatever moment we can manage, that in some way prayer is part of our life. Prayer may be a constant companion on the journey, or a friend that visits once in a while, to bring comfort and solace. It may be something deeper, more mysterious that is largely left unspoken, something felt, yearned for, grieved over or something long-forgotten brought to mind.
How we pray then, is not the most important thing, but rather that the experience of prayer and the encounter with God is recognised. That our faith is tended and our relationship with God is nurtured, in precious moments. No fancy wrapping is needed and it may not always taste sweet but, in the midst of life, listening for and opening our hearts to God is indeed food for the soul.
Resourcing Worship Team, Mission & Discipleship Council
Church of Scotland