Prayer draws us more closely into relationship with God, has an impact on the world and energises our Christian lives. Yet many of us find it a challenge. Bishop Lee encourages us to join together in this life-giving discipline.
How would you describe your prayer life at the moment? Is it deep, intense and vital or perhaps superficial, cool and perfunctory? Put this way it sounds a rather intimate and private question!
We know that prayer is fundamental to Christian discipleship yet many of us recognise that our personal prayer lives are frequently not what they might be. This is especially true of our corporate prayer life. Generally speaking prayer gatherings in our churches are thinly attended unless a particular event or tragedy has galvanised people.
At the heart of prayer is a living engagement with God and his purposes for the whole of life, sharing with the Father what matters to us and looking for what matters to him. Articulating our own hopes, desires and frustrations as well as being made conscious of Gods.
Prayer draws us into a dynamic relationship with the Son and the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. We may not know what we ought to pray for, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, but God's Spirit comes alongside and prays with us (Romans 8: 26-7).
In this relationship of prayer, what we want and value counts and indeed influences how God acts and what is accomplished. Yet through prayer our wills and values are also realigned with God, as Jesus illustrated in his openness to the Fathers purposes in Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 39).
Prayer is not given to us as a burdensome task of discerning what God wants to happen and then praying accordingly. Prayer is a gift before it is a task or discipline. As we give ourselves in prayer for the sake of others, God's own response is to give himself afresh to us.
In the summer of this year, Bishop Mike and I will be visiting deaneries to lead afternoons and evenings of prayer as an aspect of our Diocesan aims of growing in partnership, influence, commitment and numbers.
These days will be opportunities to gather before God with one another, to give thanks for the signs of God's presence and actions in the world and, most significantly, to encounter afresh the One who is able to accomplish immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3: 20-21).