25 June 2020

What is prayer all about? There's a long history and heritage of prayer in the Church, and many prayers that have been faithfully repeated down the ages, day after day. Some prayer is one's own personal devotion, expressing in both words and silence one's depth of faith. And that is altogether precious.

But what disturbs me is the ease with which we pray, for example, for peace, and perhaps hide our pessimism that peace will continue to elude us despite our prayers. It is right, of course, that peace, compassion, caring and so much more should find their way into our praying, but praying is never enough. We must not abdicate our responsibility for helping change the way things are by simply saying prayers.

I believe that prayer changes me. It is a way of reflecting back to me the world I live in, local and global, so that I can see things differently - if you like, through the eyes of God. Praying does not change God's mind. At its most simplistic, praying for a fine day for the church fête is to reduce prayer to a shopping list. What it does is link us with the divine, the transcendent, that realm of the beyond that we call God.

Tradionally we end our prayers "through Jesus Christ our Lord" or similar words; if we are serious in our praying, we should be trying to see things, as it were, through the eyes of Jesus, seeing what needs to be done and setting about doing it. Perhaps a phrase like this might help: "..and may our prayers be the first step towards answering them."

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