Keep on Praying!

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, September 30, 2013 by Revd. Robin Williamson

Ephesians 6: 18-20; 1 Corinthians 14:1-4 and Jude 1:20-21

Apparently Lord Tennyson, sometime resident of Maidstone (at Park House near the Barracks in the Chatham Road) in 1869 said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

The one thing almost guaranteed to make us feel guilty is if I were to ask you – or you me, about our prayer life. The title for this morning is ‘Keep on praying’. And if we are really honest with each other, we probably feel we don’t pray well, or enough.

Or if we do pray, we can sometimes wonder whether God is listening, or whether (if He’s all knowing, and wants the best for everyone) – whether prayer will make any difference, surely He knows best anyway?

We’re brought up to believe that prayer does make a difference, and will change things. Yet probably most of us struggle and prayer can become a chore and a duty, rather than a delight.

The Bible encourages us to believe that prayer is good, and part of what our Heavenly Father would encourage us to do:

  • Jonah 2: 1 & 10 From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord God and the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land
  • Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place where he prayed
  • Matthew 21:22 Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer…”
  • Acts 4:31 After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly
  • Matthew 6:9 Jesus said, “This then is how you should pray – ‘Our Father in heaven…’

We need to remind ourselves that, as followers of Jesus, our prayer should stem not from something we feel we do because we’ve been told to, but rather out of the relationship we have with Our Father God, who loves us so extravagantly that He sent His Son Jesus so that we could have an intimate personal relationship with Almighty God.

If you have a real relationship with someone you long to communicate with them – and somehow as we pray – in a sense we become God’s co-workers with our Heavenly Father.

Believe it or not God does more when we pray – and if Jesus urged and taught his disciples how to pray He clearly thought it important, and we should too.

But how to do it?

There are lots of different ways. The important thing, I believe, is to find the way that’s most comfortable and best for you – pray how you can – not how you can’t!

Some people like music to start, some like silence. The Archbishop of Canterbury apparently prays while he is ironing (or at least used to!).

Some find it easier outside – perhaps walking or jogging. Some being in a favourite room or a chair. If God has given you a private prayer language, don’t forget to use it.

Praying with others you value and respect I’ve found the most helpful as they can poke you if you are being unreal, or showing off (remember the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:10-14.

And Jesus said that where one or two are together, He’s with us!

The (prayer) triplets have, I believe, been very helpful and meaningful. Clergy are encouraged to say the daily office – sometimes, especially if a bit weary, books of prayers can be helpful – or perhaps reading a Psalm slowly.

When thinking of the answers to prayers for me, most of you know about the simple prayer made out loud for me in an underground train for a wife (do ask me sometime!) and just this week, I lost my mobile phone (I use it very rarely, but I find it useful occasionally – I’ve just learned to text!) I’d looked everywhere and it was missing several days. I prayed, and in the middle of the night I realized where it was – in a pocket in the wardrobe!

In conclusion:

  • Prayer springs from a relationship
  • God does more when we pray
  • Jesus prayed and showed us how to

As we look to a new chapter in St Luke’s 116 year history tomorrow, let’s bear the words of Jude 1:20-21 in mind.

The Message version says,

“But you dear friends carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right in the centre of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched ready for the mercy of our Master Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life.”

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