Prayer

“Sunday must be your busiest day.”  This is a harmless question directed to the pastor of any church, but it also makes me want to expand on roles and what it is we do generally as Christians.  We all know what hours bankers hold and what they do, we all know what lawyers do and the business hours they may hold.  The question about busyness on a Sunday to a pastor tells me that most people don’t really know what the pastor does besides seeing him, or her, on a Sunday morning worship service.  In the past, in answer to the harmless question, “Sunday must be your busiest day”, I have written a series on a blog that featured my own day-to-day events so that many of my own flock might gain some insight.

Some may think that the pastor has little to do during the week and only really ‘works’ on a Sunday.  The same could be said of some skeptical of the Christian faith, that most people only act and behave in a ‘Christian way’ on Sunday morning in worship.  We know that this is not generally the case, but that our discipleship seeps through in all of our days and in all of our actions.
For this Lenten letter I want to say that I spend a lot of time in prayer…but this wains easily with the many distractions – emails being one of them.  I admire many of those in our church history who have claimed that the busier they become, the more time they have devoted to a lifestyle of prayer.
What is prayer?  Try this out with me, and maybe you will find that your own busiest day of the week is one that was filled with much prayer.  Try not to reserve all of your prayer time to Sunday morning, as this becomes like the phone call to loved ones each Sunday where we only have time to mention the briefest of details and the relationship might seem too one sided.
Here is one method of prayer that you might like to try this Lent.  Jesus frequently takes time to pray in solitude and such is the basis of the Contemplative tradition in our faith.  Most of us will find our days and weeks reflect a pattern: work, eat and sleep.  Our time is seen as valuable, and we dislike waisting it.  So over the next while try to carve out a simple 10 minutes for prayer with God.  You might like to set an alarm so that you are not worried about how much time you are spending.  I am sure that you will find it surprising how quickly the time passes and that you will crave more time with God.  So set ten minutes aside each day and you may sit in absolute silence directing your thoughts back to God with a simple word when your mind wanders (and it will!). Close relationship need no words to communicate; however, if praying like this seems too foreign, read a short devotional passage, or spiritual classic.  Another way of spending ten minutes in prayer is to write (or draw) your prayer.  What is important is that you prepare the space for prayer ensuring that you minimize the chance for interruption.  Note to self – turn off the mobile phone.
Let us, with the challenge of Lent, seek to foster a life of prayer amongst ourselves so that our busy days are also days founded in prayerful relationships.
Here is a short video from the Church of England “Just Pray” series that may speak to the lives of many in our congregation. Jonny on Prayer – CofE Just Pray
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Everyday of the Week

Having now met a great number of people in Anglican Church Freiburg (ACF) I realize that many of these faithful people are also busy people.  Busy with work, family, and changing circumstances.  There are many activities that happen throughout the week for all of us, but what is it that keeps us truly together when we are apart?  I think this is prayer.

Often there is the temptation to feel that by doing something we are being active and productive.  Yet, when we are the most busy it is good to spend more time in prayer.  Ha! you say.  How does one make more time to pray when already the day seems to slip past so quickly.  I realize myself, that it is close to midnight as I type this out, but as soon as this is sent I will gather my thoughts into the ancient worship service called Compline.  It is a quiet and contemplative prayer that marks the completion of the day and prepares one for sleep.  The prayer helps me to set aside all that has been part of the ‘doing’ and allows me to simply fall into ‘being’.

How then does a growing parish with many lively activities during the week support itself? Perhaps it is not so much in the ‘doing’ that marks productivity, rather the quality of ‘being’ that is important.  As always the doing and being issues arise as they did for Martha and Mary.  I like to think of both aspects of our lives as life giving, just as one cannot hold one’s breath – breathing in and out is much like doing and being – part of a life-giving system.

My prayer, this night, if for the family I wait for.  For the people I have met today.  For the kindness of new friends. For the people who go unnoticed quietly working away for the kingdom of God.  For those who offer themselves in gracious ways to communities of people in need.  For those who feel that the day has been spent doing so much and yet they see so little accomplished, that they not grow weary.  For those who want to be more with God despite the chaos in their lives.  For the grace of God to let go of the things that we cannot change, and the sleep which will come, once we learn to put both the ‘doing’ and the ‘being’, into God’s hands.