Luke 11 vv 1-4, Ecclesiastes 3vv 1-8, 1 John 1-12
The reading from Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. So is there a certain time for prayer, or is there always a time to pray?
John’s first letter speaks of walking in the light. Are we walking in the light as we pray? Or do we walk into the light as we pray?
I know often we find it difficult to find the right words. We may stumble over what we want to say. Remember God already knows what is on our mind. God is open to anything we might hurl at Him, and we may later feel ashamed if we get angry. However, we only have to look at the Psalms to know God is quite used to it.
Today I have the challenge to open up creative ideas for prayer and hope some of you will be encouraged to try different ways you can talk with God. Although the Bible is a great resource, I have some other suggestions you may find will help you.
Imagine you are on a beach. Look out over the sea. The waves roll in one after the other. You can see the horizon but it is far away. You may feel that is as far away as God is to me. And yet, as you watch, the waves roll over the sand towards the shore and up to the beach. Imagine God is not as far away as the horizon, but is rolling to you on the tiny waves. This is your chance to speak to God as you would to a friend sitting on the sand beside you. Talk to God as a friend, for that is what he is. Tell God how you feel, what you are concerned about. Know that God is listening. You may never know the answer to your prayer; we trust God to know the best answer and deal with it.
There are many resources we can call on, but often the prayer needs to be instant and that can be difficult. Can we be alone with God if our thoughts are whirling around our heads and do not want to form a sentence? When Sam (my youngest child) was at Heath End school, he always insisted that I wait for him some distance from school. So I parked in Monkton Lane and waited. It was time undisturbed and I realised this was a good time for prayer. I could think, and began to call it my time for God.
But you may be saying, “Creative prayer: what can I do? I need guidance of some sort.”
Look about and use something to hand to inspire you. I have brought a few bits and pieces to, I hope, inspire prayer.
- Say you can see a candle at once you may think of Jesus our light; our guide. Light the candle. What does the flame say to you?
- Perhaps a box. Open it. It is empty. What does it remind you of? Give thanks for this memory.
- When you walk through the town does everyone look in a hurry? Pick someone out and smile. If they smile back, thank God, if they do not, pray for them.
- Prayer books: I keep these books of short prayer next to my bed. This helps me to pray before I go to sleep.
- Cuddly polar bear: we can use things we find lying around the house. Maybe I can use this bear to prompt me to pray for endangered species. Maybe this leads me on to pray for the environment, for example, for climate change.
There is no right or wrong way to speak to God. As Psalm 139 says, “Lord you have searched me and known me you discern my thoughts from far away.”
It is the case that some people can produce a prayer when asked. Others find it hard, but no matter what comes from your mouth, God sees and knows all of you and understands you completely.
We hope you find these notes helpful. They are not a complete transcript of Maggie’s sermon.