Life Chez Dee Episode #107: Exploring Prayer
So I’m half way through the Lent course now, and tonight’s material was entitled Exploring Prayer.
Again, my anxieties took the lead and I wondered, and worried about this … not greatly, but worried all the same. I don’t pray, as I’ve mentioned before, not in the conventional sense anyway. What would my course mates think? Would I be a bit of a disappointment in the eyes of the church? And I don’t know why I was worrying, as I know how lovely and understanding and accepting everyone is, and I know that whatever works for me is right, whether or not it is right for others. Anyway, I’ll talk a little more about this later.
Following on from previous weeks’ action list, I’ve now installed and listened to the app most days, but not all. When I say that I’ve installed the app, what I mean is that with much technical support from Justin, I am now able to listen to the thought for the day through the app via the car speakers. As Deacon Kim said to us, whatever we do is enough. It is not about forcing ourselves to do more, but by trying new things, and doing what we feel is right for us.
I’ve looked at the book I collected from another member of the group, but only a couple of times. I’ve said before I’m not a reader, but some words did shout out to me which I wrote down. This week I will keep with me to be mindful of how much of what I do affects other people.
A couple in our group happened to mention a pamphlet that they have delivered, and have kindly put me on the list to receive this. Today’s thought was “Why pray?”, rather appropriate I thought given the title of today’s session. And the question I suppose I have is exactly that … why pray? If God knows what I need, and what I think, then why do I need to pray and talk to him or ask him for things? The answer I suppose is that God knows us, and has prepared things for us, and will help us through. But what exactly has God got planned for us? Can we find out in prayer?
We discuss where we pray, or where we talk to God. How that has changed over time and due to different circumstances we find ourselves in. I think about when I bare my soul. It’s usually if I’m by myself whether that be out walking, when gardening, when doing housework, but more often than not when I’m in the car. I talk to God as if I’m having a brew with him. I talk, I ask, I pour my heart out. I don’t think of it as being prayer, there is no beginning, and there is no end, and my thoughts are informal, spontaneous and sporadic. So too do I talk like this to Edward. I tell him I have a job for him to do and I need his help. I need him to find something out, or I need him to do … I even say I don’t know why I’m telling you this because you won’t have a clue what I’m on about, but I know you’ll know who to ask. My chats with God and with Edward are when I’m anywhere at any time, whenever I feel I the need really, which is rather often. I say to God as I say to Edward, that I know that they’ve heard me, but I’d love it if they could acknowledge they’ve heard me, and show me a sign. Sometimes they do, and I notice, and I say thank you to them. Kim says she finds that really special.
We talk about the names we give God. Is he Father, Creator, Saviour, Rock, Friend? I think about this. I don’t have a name for Him; I think he’s just God. As I ponder this question I am cut out from the zoom meeting, and I wonder if this is a sign, and I’d better get pondering this more!
I then wonder if God is my Saviour – believe me I need saving! I wonder whether I am having difficulty answering this question because I don’t read and haven’t read scripture enough. As I read, and study the different passages, I begin to think of God in different ways. We read a passage from Luke, and in this I think of God the Father: “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”. Isn’t this what we all want to hear? That we are loved, and that we are enough.
We talk more of how we pray and discuss whether we prepare ourselves for talking to God. Do we need to pause, listen to music, slow down, be aware of our surroundings and our feelings. I don’t generally, unless of course I’m sitting in church. The stilling, the silence, the focus of this I find incredibly moving and I so often feel overwhelmed and quite emotional. I’ve started listening to the app, and it begins with some music and I wonder if this is the reason, to prepare us and put us in the right mindset for listening to the reading, and pondering the questions posed, but I don’t really think of this as prayer. I could be completely wrong though, I am still learning.
I think about all the hymns which pop into my head, sometimes randomly, sometimes triggered by something I’m doing or something I’ve heard. The words resonate with me, or speak to me, and if so really stay with me. These too are prayers I suppose.
There has been much to ponder, and I have much to learn, and next week we will explore more about what to say in prayer. Wesley said “Our prayers are the proper test of our desires: nothing being fit to have a place in our desires which is not fit to have a place in our prayers. What we may not pray for neither should we desire.”
And so I leave these thoughts today with the hymn which popped into my head. I think of all my chats, and I think of this hymn, and how I’m now also thinking of God as a friend.
What a friend we have in Jesus All our sins and griefs to bear What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit Oh, what needless pain we bear All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness Take it to the Lord in prayer