Last Updated on January 23, 2022 by Abigail Courtness
What is prayer? One of the best definitions I’ve come across is : ‘Prayer is the practice of the presence of God’.
In simple terms, we often characterise prayer as talking to God. However I think this can be misleading and hugely disappointing, because we don’t get a response in the immediate way we might expect from a conversation. The notion of a conversation with God also conveys the idea that God is absent from us and that we have to deliberately call him.
Former Archbishop Rowan Williams invites us to think of God as always there. He suggests that when we pray, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to pray with us. He points to Romans 8 where Paul writes: ‘The Spirit of Jesus within makes us call out Abba Father”.
Jesus asked us to refer to God is as “Our Father” – not Father, which would have been austere distant. He invited us to stand where he stood and to call upon God in the same way he did, in the hope that as we grow in faith we allow ourselves to be aligned with God.
In the Gospels, we often read that at the start or end of the day Jesus is going off to, or coming back from, prayer, usually on his own. Jesus had the humility to know he needed that strength of relationship, that he could not accomplish his ministry on his own.
We’re not told what Jesus did during his time of prayer, but I can imagine that he found inspiration in the same way as many Christians, that is with silence and remembering passages of scripture. This simple form of prayer is available for us all to practice, except we now also have the aid of printed books and mobile devices which can give us words*.
If prayer was fundamental for Jesus in his ministry, does this not give us a clue about how important it should be for us.
I wish you well in your ‘practice of the presence of God’.
Remember as you do, words from Letter of James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Also you may like to know that monthly sheets of daily bible readings, produced by the community of Taize, are available next to the prayer candles in each church. These readings are also available for Smart phones via Taize reading App. Just do a search for Taize.
Taizé’s short Bible reading for today:
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Please join us for prayers at our upcoming services which you can find out about here.