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5 Steps to Kick-start Prayer

5 Steps to Kick-start Prayer

5 Steps to Kick-start Prayer

 

Introduction.

  • I’m no expert. The practise of prayer has been with me for most of my adult life and yet I consider myself to be green; not a guru.
  • On the other hand, what are clergy to do if not to pray? These are merely observations which have lodged with me along the way. If any of the following steps help, then we have succeeded!
  • There are masses of books on the subject; some are worth reading. This is not a book, merely outlines of significant steps in prayer. The best use of your time is to start with step 1.
  • But before we start, a definition of prayer might be helpful. This one by Archbishop Michael Ramsey is a good as any: prayer is to consciously put ourselves in God’s company. (1)
  • I’m very happy to discuss any of these points further with you, either on line –armstrong60@yahoo.com -or by telephone, 01572 748634.
  • If these 5 steps are helpful in any way, we can continue with a further 5 steps but it would help to have your comments.
  • So, let’s get going!

 

Step 1: Motivation.

  • The urge to pray does not lie in the heart of everyone but by clicking on this link you have taken the first step. It is one of the most difficult of the lot in my experience and you have done it. Congratulations! It may be small – perhaps only driven by curiosity – but it is hugely important.
  • I believe that there is an innate curiosity in most people to explore mystery and there is no better vehicle for doing that than prayer. Through it we can discover something of the contours of that mystery we call God, something more about ourselves and thus how we might relate together.
  • Motivation comes in many guises: curiosity, desire, aggression and many other forms but it is there. It moves us forward towards God: the impetus behind this search is secondary and should not distract us.

 

Step 2:  Place.

  • Where should we pray? It is important to find a space which is comfortable but in which you can be alert.  Trying to pray in bed is fraught with difficulties! What about a comfy chair or a garden bench?  It’s useful to go to the same spot each time. I find it difficult to pray when I’m uncomfortable so be gentle with yourself, especially if you’re over 21.  Spiritual gymnastics are for the young!
  • Praying in church is a huge advantage as the architecture and decoration also speak to us of God, ‘where prayer has been valid’.(2) But this pandemic has forced us to exercise our faith at home, where God is also present.
  • You might want to focus on a living flame, an icon or picture. It will help when your mind begins to wander, as it surely will. You will regularly struggle but that struggle is also part of your prayer, just as rushing across Victoria Station to meet a friend is also an element of your friendship.

 

Step 3: Time.

  • In this lockdown we have plenty of time but it if is not organised it runs through our fingers. Mornings slide into afternoons; days get confused. Some form of order is required.
  • Prayer is no exception. We need time to reflect, to ‘centre down’ as they used to say. How long should that be?  We are all different. If you have itchy feet or a pressurized diary, then all you might expect of yourself is to say The Lord’s Prayer gently, with deep breaths between each phrase. But if you are more inquisitive – and I hope you are! – then aim at 10 minutes, even though your mind might start to wander.
  • If your mind is focussed on intercessory prayer then it is only fair to give each subject – your poorly friend, your grieving uncle, the famine in Yemen – some of your mental energy. Mull each one round your heart and mind for a few moments. Extract the juices. Is there an impulse there which might suggest that there is something you can do to alleviate the suffering?

Step 4: Language.

  • In the gospels, Jesus addresses God as, “Abba, Father” (Mark 14.36). It’s the language of a child: ‘daddy’! Begin the conversation. Tell God how you feel: elated? Sad? Angry? Guilty? These are all classic parts of prayer. (ACTS is a useful mnemonic: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). But if you feel that such an approach is too forward or disrespectful then chose the verse of a hymn, The Lord’s Prayer or psalm to begin the conversation.
  • Find your most comfortable mode of being consciously present with God. We are all different! For some of us words stream forth as verbal diarrhoea; for others, they will be star-struck , diffident, more formal.  Yet for others, words are no use at all. What is necessary is just to be with God, consciously – like two wordless lovers.
  • Most of us start with intercession, in ordinary language. Nothing wrong with that! However, you might like to classify your requests under 5 headings, suggested by praying hands together: those nearest and dearest (thumbs); those who point the way, carrying authority (index finger); those at the top of society; the weakest and finally ourselves (the little finger). Kids stuff really but it does help to spread out our concerns before God.
  • In this lockdown situation, it is worth taking note of those who consciously opt for a solitary life such as the monastic community. A lovely introduction to prayer can be found at alonetogether.org.uk

Step 5: Ouch!

  • ‘Pray as you can, not as you can’t’ is one famous piece of advice given by a monk to an enquirer. If none of the above seems to fit, then just sit with God consciously and allow him to caress you in the silence.
  • Anglicans especially are so fixated on words and structure. “Poor little talkative Christianity,” bemoans E.M.Foster. We find silence threatening, even in our worship which saddens me. ‘Has the vicar forgotten’? You can be alone and silent with the God who created you. He knows the secrets of our hearts and will not ask of us that which we cannot deliver.
  • But prayer is essential to our maturing, to our communities, to God’s world so keep on keeping on, whichever way you chose to do it. “Prayer the Churches banquet” (3). It is vital for us and for the work of the church.

 

  • Michael Ramsey. ‘Be still and know’ page 73.
  • S.Eliot, ‘Little Gidding’ 1.46.
  • George Herbert’s poem, ‘Prayer’ – a wonderful subject for meditation!
Sunday 17th May 2020 TALK FOR THE ONLINE SERVICE ON ZOOM.

Sunday 17th May 2020 TALK FOR THE ONLINE SERVICE ON ZOOM.

TALK FOR MAY 17TH 2020

 

Six hundred years before Paul arrived in Athens there was a great plague. To try to sort this the people let a herd of sheep loose and where they fell they were offered to the nearest god’s altar and if there wasn’t one around, they offered it to an unknown god. It was said by Xenophon that Athens was “one great altar”. Paul could have just taken the tourist trail because Athens was a centre for architecture and culture. But he found the altar to the Unknown God and used it to tell the people of the God that he knew and loved so well.

Many of those who listened were unhappy with the gods that were worshipped but had no option. Many listened to Paul as he talked to them about the God he loved so much. He told them that “God is actually not far from any one of us” and that we are all his children. Many were searching for something more in their lives.

Isn’t this true of the situation we find ourselves in today? We cannot understand Covid 19 but we need something positive to cling onto and what is more positive than the love of Christ for each one of us in whatever situation we find ourselves. People are searching now and this is reflected in the numbers who are watching the services being streamed; far more than ever go to our churches. As people search so must we be willing to be open to God and speak to others of the gospel news that Christ is risen, alive and waits for each one of us to turn to him. In the Gospel reading for today which is John ch 14 v 15-21, in v 18 in various versions Jesus says “I will not leave you as orphans, all alone, comfortless”. And that is the greatest promise which we can accept. Our God is not unknown! A short poem that I found and would like to pass on to you:

Because
Because he emptied himself of all but love, you can be filled.
Because his body was broken, your life can be whole.
Because his blood was shed, your sins can be forgiven.
Because he submitted to injustice, you can forgive,
Because he finished his Father’s work, your life has worth.
Because he was forsaken, you can never be alone.
Because he was buried, you can be raised.
Because he lives, you don’t have to be afraid,
Because he reached down to you, you don’t have to work your way up to him.
Because his promises are always true, you can have hope.  Amen.

 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 17th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 17th May 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 17 May 2020:  Easter VI

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton and Derek Barker.
  • Pray too for the souls of the departed, including Peter Taylor.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.
  • From TODAY, 17 May, Sunday worship will move from 8.30am to 10am, presenting a short 20 minute service with brief address. Join us in the usual way via Simon’s email address.

MEDITATION

Today is Rogation Sunday and so today’s meditation is an extract from a Rogation Service meditation where questions are asked about the holiness of farming and how God might respond. All to easily we can forget in lockdown that farming continues every day and we can celebrate in this sacramental activity and remember all those 

“So, God is like a farmer sowing seed. Does that mean that a farmer sowing his seed is like you, Father? Is it a holy thing to be a farmer? Is the production of food sacramental? Do you call men and women to this work as you call priests and preachers to their work? And if the soil can stand for men and women does it need loving care? does it have soil rights? is it a sin to destroy it and take away its life? does it carry a shadow of the reflection of your image?

….

My child, it is indeed a holy thing to farm my good earth and to produce food for my people. I call men and women to this work with such a strong calling that they put up with many pains and problems in order to follow their calling. And the soil has its holiness too: The holiness of my creation which I have declared good: The holiness of the life it supports.”

But you have done well to use the land and produce nourishing food. I am pleased that, at least in your land, no-one need go hungry. Everyday millions of people say to me, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, and farmers are part of my answer to that prayer. My prayer is that the soil and seed might be good for tomorrow’s farmers too. My prayer is that farmers will find a way to feed the world that they can sustain for generations to come. My son, is it permissible for God to make a prayer? Can I ask my people to live so that I am able to give their children their daily bread? Source:  Arthur Rank Centre

 

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 26 April 2020: Easter III

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 26 April 2020: Easter III

 

 Sunday 26 April 2020:  Easter III

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw, Kay’s son and Janette Saunders (both with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Derek Barker, Sandie Scotney and Carys Aley with her sister, mourning the loss of their father.
  • We pray too for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:   Thank you to all those who donated to the Rutland Foodbank. We sent a good amount of groceries and generous cash donations this week. The collection is ongoing – there is a box inside Sally’s gate at 27, The Street.  Particular requests from the team at the Foodbank are:

tinned carrots, peas, small jars of coffee, jam, meat pies, cereal, tinned potatoes, rice, especially the microwave type, smash, long-life sponge puddings, sugar (500g), UHT full cream milk (blue carton). Washing up liquid, non-bio washing tablet, hand soap.

MEDITATION:   Father God, there are so many people to pray for during this time. So many needs, so many requests. This can seem so overwhelming to us as your church. Remind us that you can hear all the prayers, you can see all the needs, and you are a provider. Lord, as we face these uncertain times, may you use this time to grow us in our faith and understanding of you. May you use this time to remind us of our mortality and of eternity. Life is short. Remind us that we should live our lives ready to meet you at our appointed time and while we fear the unknown, we have assurance of salvation. We praise you, Lord, for Your goodness, your mercy, and your love. We know the COVID-19 outbreak did not surprise you. We know you are sovereign, even over this. Let that truth give us comfort, and may you give us opportunities to share that comfort with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.             Simon Aley

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 19th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 19th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices

 Sunday 19 April 2020:  Easter II

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw, Kay’s son and Janette Saunders (both with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Derek Barker and Sandie Scotney.
  • In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.
  • Why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am – or Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, download Zoom on your computer and obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Aley (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:

As you may know our Church makes regular donations to the Rutland Foodbank. I have been asked by a couple of people about continuing this even though the church building has had to close. I will be going to the Foodbank in Oakham next week.  If you would like to donate items or cash there will be a collection box just inside our gate (27, The Street) ALL DAY ON TUESDAY 21st APRIL or I can collect from your doorstep if you email me – sally@saltlane.com 

MEDITATION:

Doubting Thomas is symbolic of our age.  He was absent when the Risen Lord first visited the frightened disciples.  Yet inquisitiveness and companionship made him stick with those whose lives had been emboldened by the presence of the Risen Lord in the Upper room. What had gone through his mind during the intervening week?  Had all his friends gone mad?  Are they all a bunch of liars? Are they drunk? Why had he been left out?

Thomas, like many of us, needs evidence before he can believe. It catches up with him as the sermon for today illustrates. Christ, in his generosity, invites Thomas to touch his wounds. But that is not necessary for Thomas.  He is already convinced. “Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe”, says Jesus.  2000 years later and in the centre of a pandemic, we experience The Risen Lord. Our buildings are locked but the community of faith finds new ways to worship. God continues to break out in so many different guises. He reaches beyond the locked doors, the chosen few, the culturally defined; the doors of the infection wards and the edge of the grave are no barrier to his presence.   And The Risen Lord is in our hearts, questioning what the new reality might be after the lockdown – and our part in it.

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 12th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 12th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices

 Sunday 12 April 2020:  Easter Day

  • “Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”
  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Ann Fowler, Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw (Kay’s son; Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Derek Barker and Sandie Scotney.
  • In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.
  • Don’t forget our very own daily Lent Blog which can be accessed via the Benefice website, wellandfosse.org Also, the quite excellent Good Friday Art Exhibition.
  • Today was supposed to be the culmination of our Benefice stewardship campaign but it has been blown off course by CV. When we can return to normality, the campaign will be even more urgent to attend to.
  • From Easter Monday onwards, why not join us via Zoom for Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am? Our prayers have never been more vital!  If you wish to join, obtain the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone and email Simon Ailey (sialey@aol.com) who will send you an invitation to the group.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:

For anyone who may be taking a walk on Sunday please check out the village green near Church. 

 

EASTER SUNDAY 2020

Today is going to be a very different Easter Sunday to any that we have known before. There will be no joyful services with full churches, no friendship and fellowship after the service over a coffee and a piece of cake.   Should we just forget about Easter this year and wait until next year when hopefully we can celebrate in a fitting manner? This would assume that Easter is only one day.

However, Easter is for each one of us and for every day. Jesus said, “I am with you always” and it is this thought that we need to cling to. Jesus rose from the dead so that we too might live. He understands how we are feeling now and stands beside us at this difficult time.   Christ rose in glory. So although celebration is perhaps not forefront in our hearts, let us remember the true message of Easter wherever we are. Jesus is with us always.

Prayer:  Lord, you suffered and died and rose again. May we find joy out of heartache and understanding out of confusion. Help us to remember your great love for each one of us and ask that the message of Easter speak to us.  Amen.

A very blessed Easter to you all.     Ann Robinson

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

Advance Notice: Good Friday – A Virtual Art Exhibition

Advance Notice: Good Friday – A Virtual Art Exhibition

Christopher Armstrong says :

The artists in Barrowden and South Luffenham have pooled their resources to create a Meditation for Good Friday in various works of art. Originally planned for Barrowden Church, the Exhibition will now be presented electronically and will be published on the Benefice website for Good Friday, 10 April so that everyone can see the result.

We are hugely fortunate to have such a wide range of talent in our villages. Please support them by viewing their work!

MOTHERING SUNDAY POSIES 22ND MARCH 2020

MOTHERING SUNDAY POSIES 22ND MARCH 2020

At the close of play tonight there were just 5 posies left in the church which represents a really powerful and relevant service to our community.  Thank you very much – and please thank your other helpers.

 

 

In these extraordinary times, such symbols take on greater power and remind us all – as the archbishop said in his broadcast today – of the part which the Church down the ages has played in nurture but also witnessing to the source of all life.

 

God bless,