A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Way of Love: Pray

Prayer, that is, communion with God, has always been important to God’s people. As we see in the scriptures, prayer can take many forms: Abraham argues with God on behalf of the people of Sodom (Gen. 18:22-33); Moses talks to God in the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-15); the psalms are full of lament, praise, and petition to God (and yes, sometimes anger and confusion – it’s OK to be angry with God), and in the prophets we find many instances of the entire community of Israel’s faithful brought together to offer confession and repentance, thanks and praise. The gospels illustrate, over and over, how important it was for Jesus to spend time on his own, praying and listening to God his Father. The epistles (letters) of Paul and others emphasize the prayers offered and requested on behalf of the early churches and their leaders. Of course, prayer is a two-way street. We speak to God, but we also listen for God’s voice. Sometimes, it’s enough simply to sit (or stand, or walk, or kneel!) in silence before the Divine. What’s the best way to pray? Whatever way brings you closer to God in Christ and allows you to feel the presence of God’s Spirit in your life. For me, raised in The Episcopal Church, the Daily Office in The Book of Common Prayer has always been helpful. Even though I pray the office in solitude, I feel that I am praying along with the whole Church. The collects and my own petitions help me focus on offering my own and others’ needs to God, and through the readings, prayers, and canticles, as well as time spent in silence, I hear the voice of God speaking to me. May your prayer life be ongoing and steadily enriched as you continue to draw nearer to God.

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