Today has not exactly panned out the way I expected (which sounds a bit more ominous than it is). Today I had a list of tasks I wanted to complete, but I didn't get very far with them. The first thing on the to do list was to pray. I genuinely believe that prayer is the most important and life giving thing we can do but I am also painfully aware that it is not always an easy thing to do. There were many times in my prayers today when I got distracted or my mind wandered. This is perhaps why praying with others can be really helpful to keep us focused. In my haphazard way I continued on in prayer and felt a very real sense of peace and of clarity about some of the things I had been wondering about. I recognise that it is not always like this but today it really was. Today prayer was good and easy. On Sunday we talked about Jesus being our friend who understands us completely. Remembering that it is our friend who we are praying to can make all the difference.
I have really appreciated the extra focus on prayer this Lent. I've enjoyed reading Henry Martin's book "Eavesdropping" using the conversations that Jesus had with lots of people as a way to think about prayer and I've really enjoyed spending time on Sunday evenings in the Lent group learning about and practicing Christian Meditation as a different way of praying. I have come to the conclusion over recent years that prayer is the greatest gift we have been given but that prayer can also feel a little bit like being given a set of juggling balls for Christmas. They are brilliant fun when you learn how to use them but take a bit of practice to fully enjoy them. So this morning, rather than attacking my task list, I stuck with the theme of prayer and decided to write a short beginners guide for those who find prayer hard or confusing with the aim that perhaps that a few more people might become a bit more confident and enjoy prayer a little more. I've attached a copy to this email in case anyone would find it helpful. But there are also loads of apps, websites and books that can also help. These are a couple of my favourites:
Pray as you go - you can download an app for this or go straight to the website. It is a 10 - 15 minute recording of a reflection and space for prayer that you can listen to. It's also a useful one to listen to in the car or on the bus (if you have headphones). It also has lots of great prayer tools that you can at anytime.
Prayer: does it make any difference by Philip Yancey - this is a really brilliant book about prayer and not too hard to read. It has been around for a while now so you normally can pick up a second hand copy for about £3.
Regular prayer really does make a huge difference to our experience of life and our relationship with God. Whatever you are doing this week, if you don't already make time to pray, why not try and find a space in your day when you can spend a bit of time praying? Or why not come along at 9:15am on a Wednesday morning and join us in Church for prayer? Whatever you have planned this week I hope you have a great time. Don't forget that we are being joined on Sunday by Robert Dixon from Operation Restoration. He will be preaching and updating us on all on the school that we support as part of our church mission giving. If you can make it, it would be great to see you there.
PS: Download a 'Prayer Guide for Beginners'