1st July 2020
But there is a different type of prayer
How I long for the time when we can get back into church to worship together.
We cannot doubt the importance of worshipping God with others.
Whether we stand and raise our voices in a megachurch with widescreen video,
or kneel and hear liturgy in a more traditional setting,
or simply get together with fellow Christian in house groups for Bible Study,
prayer and praise, corporate worship is an important part of our Christian lives.
It seems so long ago when this was possible, doesn't it?
Yet there are moves to get churches open once more,
but to paraphrase Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame,
'It's church, Jim, but not as we know it'!
Gone will our warm welcoming of handshakes or hugs,
no sitting close in the pews, social distancing will be the order of the day;
no raising the roof in praise with our glorious singing,
and Communion will be with bread only, distributed by a person in mask and gloves,
and no coffee and socialising afterwards.
But all this will be worth it if we are able to worship God together.
But this is for the future, not too distant future we hope and pray,
as some churches have already made provision to open up for private prayer,
the first step along the way to corporate worship.
But there is a different type of prayer, and that is quite and private.
The instruction to pray in this way came from Jesus, himself, in Matthew
But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' 6:6
This is another way we communicate with God.
Most have us have a special, private place of prayer;
although I have a prayer space in the house,
I find that much of my communication with God
takes place when I am out in the fields walking with my German Shepherd.
The beauty of his creation never fails to inspire me.
If someone does not know how or what to pray,
Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer to help us along.
But there is another important aspect that many people ignore,
or perhaps do not even know about -
and that's listening.
The Holy Spirit will speak to us;
if nothing else he will let us know he is there;
he will guide us into the knowledge of God
and his love for us in a way that only he can do.
And if we create the time and space to listen,
we will be given the answer to our questions, doubts and fears -
but in his time, not ours. Psalm 46:10 says,
'Be still, and know that I am God.'
We must be prepared to take time
to listen as well as speak as part of our prayer time.
God's voice must be invited to speak,
he does not impose himself on his children.
Jesus told his disciples,
'If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my father will love him
and we will come and make our home with him.' John 14:23.
It is very rare, though not impossible,
for someone to actually hear a voice speaking,
although usually the communication with the Spirit is quieter
and more profound than sound;
we receive a sense of his presence
that cannot be clearly defined, but is experienced.
How much better this world would be
if everyone took some time during the day to be still,
pray for guidance and listen to God's still, small voice.