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Jesus says: Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

When you love someone, you want to be with them, you spend time with them, you hang out with them.  And then your relationship with them thrives and deepens.  God loves us.  He is with us always, but really likes it when we spend time with Him.  People do that in different ways.  Some people make time at the beginning or at the end of the day.  Remember how you used to kneel beside your bed before you went off to sleep?  Sometimes, it’s about sitting in your favourite arm chair and just being there with God.  You can make it special by lighting a candle or looking at an icon or a holy picture, or having something of God’s creation to look at – some flowers or a bonny stone.  Just making the time and the place is the start.

 

You don’t have to be sitting still.  You can turn a bus ride or walking the dog into being-with-God time.  Music, painting, woodwork can be just as much prayer.  When we are concentrating on the task and letting God be there.  The other day, someone told me how baking could be prayer for them, which is brilliant.  Make space for God in any activity and it can be prayer.

 

Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

Then prayer is what happens when you make the time to be with God.  Prayer is the language of love that flows when we spend time with God.

 

You don’t have to say anything, but most people do.  Silence is an excellent prayer. 

 

Words are good too. Just welcome God in to your life.  Tell God you love Him.  Tell him your troubles.  Tell him about the people you have seen today.  Tell him about your dreams and hopes.

 

Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

One of the glories of the Anglican tradition is the daily office: Morning and Evening Prayer, a pattern of saying the psalms and other songs from the Bible, and reading passages from the Bible.  My mum and dad used to kneel down together and say Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer every day of their married lives.  There’s also Compline, which is prayers for last thing at night. 

 

Saying the office becomes part of the daily rhythm of life and prayer.  For me it is the bedrock of my praying.  I find it makes connections for me between life in the parish and God’s word in Scripture.

 

There are many different ways of doing Morning and Evening Prayer.  I have put some of them on a table in the hall so that you can have a look.

 

And these days, if you have access to a computer, you can do Morning or Evening Prayer on-line. 

 

Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

And if you don’t want to be tied to books or to a computer screen, you could say the Jesus Prayer.  It’s a prayer I use a lot, and is one of the most prayed prayers in Christendom.  The full version goes: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  But there are shorter versions as well, right down to “Jesus have mercy.”

 

I have put some leaflets out about the Jesus Prayer in the hall, if that one appeals to you. 

 

I have a prayer rope which I bought in a monastery at Divyevo in Russia when I was there on pilgrimage.  It was made by the nuns.  It’s a bit like a rosary, though it’s used for the Jesus Prayer.  You hold a knot while you say the Jesus Prayer and then move on to the next knot and say it again.  The rope helps to keep you concentrated and gives a rhythm to the prayer. 

 

The Orthodox believe that the Jesus Prayer contains the whole of theology and the whole of prayer.  It can be a prayer of adoration, a prayer of confession, a prayer of intercession. 

 

I often use the Jesus Prayer when I am walking round the parish, going to meetings, or just walking and praying.  I pray for the people who live in this street or for that child who is kicking a ball or for that woman with the pushchair. 

 

Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

There are so many ways to pray.  I haven’t mentioned using the Bible in prayer, or imagination, or repeating a word over and over. 

 

What matters is doing it, however you do it.  Find the way that suits you, and get on with it.  Different methods will suit different people, and that’s fine. 

 

Pray always and don’t lose hear.

 

Things happen when you pray.  You bring your life and your concerns before God and ask God to make a difference.  You bring with you into prayer the people you care for and all the troubles of the world.  You ask God to work through you and through the church.  When we pray, we make space for God to work through us.  Our own relationship with God thrives and deepens. 

 

Sometimes prayer is boring. But carry on.  Pray always and don’t lose heart.

Sometimes prayer seems fruitless.  Persevere.  Pray always and don’t lose heart.

Sometimes prayer seems empty.  Keep on trusting in God.  Pray always and don’t lose heart.

 

On Monday and Tuesday, I was at Minsteracres.  The Diocese has put together a programme for clergy in mid-ministry to revive them in prayer and spirituality.  We were told this story, based on a book by Joyce Rupp, who writes on prayer:

 

Grandfather Joe loved his grand-daughter Anna.  He went to see her every day and brought her presents.  One day, he brought a cup full of earth.

 

“What’s this,” said the child. “What do I want with a cup full of earth.”

 

“You’ll see,” said Joe.  “I want you to put two drops of water into this cup every day, come what may.”

 

So Anna took the cup and began to add two drops of water.  After a few days, she got fed up of that game. 

 

“I don’t want to do this any more,” she said.

 

“Just carry on,” said Joe.  So she did. 

 

Sometimes she did it as soon as she got up in the mornings.  Some days Anna would get into bed and remember she hadn’t put two drops of water into the cup and she would have to get out and do it before she could settle down properly to sleep. 

 

Nothing happened.  “What’s the point of all this?”  Anna asked.

 

“Wait and see,” said Joe.

 

Anna carried on.  Two drops of water every day.

 

Then one day, when she picked up the pot, there was a little shoot coming through.  Each day as Anna added the two drops of water, the little plant grew bigger and bigger.  And then one day, it flowered.  What joy!

 

“And all it took,” said Anna, “was two drops of water”.

 

“What made the difference,” said grand-father Joe, “was doing it every day.”

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