As many readers will be aware, the new Diocesan vision embraces the threefold invitation to be “Prayerful, Pastoral, Prophetic”, and this year the emphasis has been on the first of those.
Here in the Glaven Valley Benefice, we have been finding it very helpful being able to be focus on prayer this year. We have tried to do that in several ways, and we have been asked to share something of our experiences this year.
This June, we had the pleasure and privilege of having the Revd Susanna Gunner come and lead a morning on prayer. She shared with us ideas of what prayer is, and how we can approach it and deepen our experience of this vital activity. She reflected on two aspects in particular: being “open and attentive”, and “using imagination”, and she had produced a stimulating booklet of words and images to use and explore during the session (and indeed afterwards). For many of those attending, prayer is a familiar activity which we are keen to develop; for others, it’s relatively new territory. Afterwards, many have said how much they learnt, and how much they want to make the effort to give prayer more time and prominence in their daily life.
Earlier in the year, during Lent, we used the module of the Pilgrim Course on “The Lord’s Prayer”. For those unfamiliar with Pilgrim, it’s an eight-section course on different aspects of Christian thought and practice, each section comprising six sessions, using video, audio, discussion and lectio divina. “The Lord’s Prayer” takes a different line/s of the prayer in each session and explores what it might mean for us to use it and live it out.
We distributed the prayer manuals and other resources which the wider Church had made available for this year’s “Thy Kingdom Come” season from Ascension to Pentecost. On occasions throughout the year, we have flagged up various prayer resources, either printed or online, including the use of prayer apps like “Pray as you Go”. We also encouraged people to use Susanna’s very helpful online “40 Prayers for 40 Days” in Lent, and other seasonal offerings.
But, of course, with these and other initiatives, we’ve only scratched the surface! There is always more to discover about the gift and adventure of prayer, and about how to give it the priority it deserves and needs in our lives. It’s through prayer, after all, that we discover how to live more in the presence of God, how to get to know God more profoundly, and how to understand the depth of his love for us.
We’re hoping we’ll all learn a lot about being more Pastoral and Prophetic too, in the years coming up – in our benefice and across the Diocese!
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