The practice of prayer

Published on: 1 March 2018

Prayer has been a constant part of my life since I was at University. It was through thinking about prayer that I was drawn to the idea that the regular prayers of Jesus would have been the psalms.

We are told in Matthew 6: 9-14 and Luke II: 2-4 that Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer. The most widely used prayer by Christians, it is so simple that it can be used by all denominations and often by non-Christians too. While we have the use of the Lord’s Prayer in our liturgy, I believe it is a personal and family prayer used by so many of us; bringing us comfort at times of stress.

I often use this prayer alongside the prayers Jesus gave us at the last supper when he took bread and wine and told us that this was his body and his blood and to take it in remembrance of him. This can be found in I Corinthians II: 24-5. These two acts of prayer have sustained me for many years and both are easy to learn and understand. They connect me with my lord and saviour. These words, taught long ago, connect down through the years.

Prayer is often associated with asking for things, but I ask myself, can praying for something actually alter the way life is? Luke (II: 9) tells us: “Ask and you will be given, seek and you will find”. I seek ways to forgive, to support others and give comfort to those in need. Those prayers help me, even if at times my prayers seem not to be answered. Prayer becomes a way of life and over all these years it has given me the comfort and strength I have looked for and needed.

Prayer does not come easily to me. I have a mind that will wander and I have to return to my thoughts and my conversation with God. I don’t think I have ever fallen asleep while in prayer like Pope Francis has told us he has, but praying is a hard task. To keeps one’s mind focused on what one set out to do takes an effort, but it enables a personal conversation with God.

The practice of prayer begins with reciting and the simpler the better. But the more it comes alive the more I am able to stop holding back my awareness of God. Indeed, the purpose of prayer to me is to be in union with God.

It’s been a long time of practice learning to pray but, like riding a bike, once I had cracked it, I was able to keep doing it. My conversations with God are between him and me. I am grateful that on occasions he does act to give me the way forward on some of the issues which alter the way life is, and brings me comfort at my times of stress.

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