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From your Vicar - Page 1
What difference does prayer make?
This is a question we have been pondering in the lent course that we have been doing a St John’s. We’ve enjoyed four weeks of stimulating times together as we have thought and talked about prayer; prayer as relationship with God, prayer as enjoying and becoming aware of God’s presence, prayer as listening to God’s still small voice and intercessory prayer: ·prayer as a way of caring for others.
Trying to do justice to the mystery we call prayer is far beyond the scope of this parish magazine article! However as you read I invite you to ponder these four aspects of prayer.
Firstly prayer is all about a relationship with our heavenly Father. As in any relationship communication is at the heart of it and our relationship with God is no different: without on-going honest and open communication that relationship is likely to grow increasingly distant.
Secondly, like any healthy friendship one of the key functions of our relationship with God is to enjoy one another’s company. Good English etiquette dictates that when you meet someone - a friend or family member - you don’t immediately present them with a long list of your demands! You spend time together, enjoy each other’s company. The same goes for a healthy relationship with God. Prayer is not just about putting our requests before God but about developing a growing awareness and appreciation of God’s presence. As Paul writes ‘ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made’ (Rom 1:20). Or in the words of the Psalmist:
St John the Baptist
Serving God and the Community of Leytonstone for 180 years
From your Vicar - Page 2
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
···and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
···and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
···and the glorious splendour of your kingdom (Ps 145: 10-12)
In what ways is God at work in your life? Have you noticed God go before you? Can you sense God’s presence with you in the everyday?
Thirdly, growing into this awareness of God’s presence often requires us to slow down, stop, be still and listen. In the noise of everyday life with its many distractions, temptations and demands on our attention it can be hard to hear God’s voice amongst the cacophony of other voices playing havoc with our faculties. This is where silence can be so fruitful. When Elijah went out to meet God on the mountaintop, God did not speak to him through the earthquake, wind or fire but through the ‘sound of sheer silence’ (1 Kgs 19:12).
Have you taken time out recently to be silent and still and listen to God’s still small voice? Is there any connection between your struggle to hear God speak and the amount of other noise in your life?
Finally as his children we know that God desires good things for his children. Jesus tells us to ‘ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find;·knock, and the door will be opened for you.’ What a privilege’, writes Joseph Scriven, ‘to carry everything to God in prayer.’ It is a privilege that the Almighty God who created the world would allow us to have some role in the continuing creation of the world. The American writer and speaker Rob Bell says this about prayer: “God’s desire is that the divine energy that made the world would flow between us and in the
From your Vicar - Page 3
process draw us closer together. Prayer is tapping in to the same energy that formed the universe.” We can make a difference in the world through our prayers - ‘the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16). Through our intercession we can bless others and plead to God on their behalf.
As we celebrate Easter and celebrate the new creation we are in Christ, remember that we have a privileged role in the world; that through prayer we can become aware of God’s presence in the world, hear him speak to us and intercede in the on-going creation of the world.