Monday, May 16, 2011

Be Quiet For A Change

Jesus' disciples said, "Lord teach us to pray."

Jesus' disciples still ask that, but by and large the Christian Church has been remiss in teaching them. For most of us, prayer is reduced to words: words addressed to God, or, when we are praying publicly, words addressed to the people around us. These words generally try to inform  God of some dire circumstance and then persuade the Almighty  to take the course of action that seems good to us.

Jesus' response to his disciples' question shows a very different approach. The prayer he recommends doesn't have many words: not enough, anyway, to fill up the long hours he reportedly spent alone with his Father. He tells us to revere God and seek God's Kingdom. He recommends doing God's will. He tells us to be satisfied with the bare necessities of daily life and, in the certain knowledge that we are forgiven, to forgive others. He tells us to keep out of trouble. And that's it really. His prayer is not so much an intercessory shopping list as the outline of an attitude to life. 

On another occasion he tells us to use few words. He tells us to go into the private place and seek our Father secretly. It seems that Jesus' prayer is about faith and not about belief, which is quite a different thing. It is not, in other words, concerned so much with concepts and facts as with a particular attitude to life.

Prayer  is about developing faith, which is living in trust. It works best when it is simple, silent, still and regular. This is the sort of prayer I have been stumbling into for about 30 years now, and which I have been taking increasingly seriously for the last 10. I am starting this blog to encourage it, share it, teach it and learn it, within my own diocese, and who knows? perhaps beyond it.

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