Parish Newsletter Article
To start off the New Year, I thought that I’d share some key elements on making progress in prayer—an essential priority for all of us in our life in faith. Here they are:
- As known and practiced by Christians, prayer is essentially relational. The fundamental relationality of prayer for those who follow of Jesus is grounded in our on-going life conversation to him as Savior and Lord—and proceeding from this, our transformation to being his true disciples and friends. While profoundly personal, this is no “private deal.” To belong to Christ means also belonging to his People, the Church. Corporate prayer supports personal prayer; personal prayer—in turn—nourishes and deepens our prayer together in worship.
- Growing prayer becomes a regular part of our daily being. This is true in both set prayer patterns and also spontaneous prayer. Regular patterns of prayer (even when we may not feel like it) help us to learn to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Growing prayer attains greater honesty with God and also ourselves. God “already knows,” of course, but consciously and deliberately letting go of our evasions and being real with God is key for us—and indispensable to a deeper living relationship.
- Growing prayer increases our capacity to rejoice and delight in God. “It is a right, and good and joyful thing, always and everywhere, to give thanks to you.” Our first, fundamental thanksgiving is gratitude that God is God.
- Growing prayer remembers we can only pray because God’s Spirit is already praying within us. (Romans 8:26-27) So, we diligently attend to the Spirit’s utterance in Holy Scripture—which is God’s Word to us—yes, even in its full humanity! The Scriptures, therefore, remain our essential school for the language, imagery, and disposition of prayer: which is our responding word to God, both in our utterance and our holy silence.
- We bear with the fact that making progress in prayer is a long journey—one in which we will not have unbroken success—nor always “get it right.” It’s not a perfectionistic performance of our own, after all. We’ll have our ups and downs; times of apparent “success,” and also dry patches. The point is keeping at it, incrementally more fully “practicing the presence of God.”
Blessings, dear ones, to you and yours, in the New Year and always.