Prayer: where and when should I pray?

 

 

Some people say prayer is like eating. We don’t eat all the time, but we need regular meals to resource us for everything else that happens during the day. Think of those times that you set aside for prayer as your chance to sit down and eat with God and receive what you need for the rest of the day.

Some people say it is like breathing. Something we do all the time. "Pray all the time," says St Paul (1 Thessalonians 5.17). I don't think he means do that activity we call “prayer” all the time. I think he means make your life a prayer. But to do that, we probably need focused moments of prayer. Over time – like a fine wine maturing in the barrel, or an onion being pickled in vinegar – we are slowly changed. We become prayerful.

A love letter from God. The whole Christian story of the birth, life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ could be summed up as a “love letter from God”. In Jesus, God declares his love for us. What we call prayer, those stumbling, faltering words that we use to speak to God, is simply our response. In other words, prayer can become like breathing. And it needs to be regular like eating. But it is most like loving. And it is most like loving because it is, at heart, a relationship.

This is the most basic truth about prayer. Prayer is relationship with God; it is the relationship we are made for. Like all relationships it is not easy to describe. I know what it feels like to be in love. But it is hard to define it. Put together all the most beautiful love poems in the world and they are as nothing compared with a few moments of love itself. Being a Christian is like a love affair. In Jesus we see how God gives himself to us in love. “As the Father has loved me,” says Jesus, “so I have loved you.” (John 15.9)

   Prayer is an act of love and a participation in the life of love. In Jesus, God declares his love for us. In prayer we come into communion with God to express our love to him. So prayer can happen everywhere and anywhere. It’s not just something that happens in a church or other special place. Neither does it depend on special times – although we probably still need those special times to nurture the relationship. “The whole reason why we pray is summed up in the sight and vision of him to whom we pray … the more the soul sees God, the more by his grace does it want him.” (Mother Julian of Norwich)

    What images or objects remind you that God is there? Think about how you could make a special place for prayer at home. When you’re on the go, you might try carrying something in your pocket or handbag, or putting an image on your phone’s lock screen. Could you set yourself an alarm to remind yourself it’s time to pray? Think about when you could take a couple of moments in your busy day to check in with God.

Prayer

Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you

such good things as pass our understanding:

pour into our hearts such love toward you

that we, loving you in all things

and above all things,

may obtain your promises

which exceed all that we can desire;

through Jesus our Lord. Amen. (The collect for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Common Worship)