“I have an idea,” said Brenda, our Newsletter Editor. “As there is not much activity to publicise, I would like to focus the May Newsletter on prayer and invite everyone to send in their thoughts about prayer.”
“Brilliant!” I replied. “You collate the responses, send them to me and I shall write my letter around them.”
OK. What happened? Only two people sent in contributions on prayer…… Brenda has drawn on her own stock of reflections and prayers for the rest.
So, let’s get this out of the way: that is a discouraging outcome. Why did no-one want to send in anything about prayer?
Maybe you were too stressed, living in a world turned upside down? That is a pity, but understandable.
Maybe you thought that no-one would be interested in anything you had to say? That is a pity, but it is simply not true.
Maybe you were worried about saying something “wrong?” That is a pity because the URC is a broad church, with people of a wide variety of belief and experience choosing to work and worship together.
Or maybe you believed that other people’s views would probably be far more “expert” than yours. That is a pity and again, it is simply not true. Prayer is not a competitive sport!
But now let me tell you what is ENcouraging. OK, maybe people might not want to talk/write about prayer, but they are certainly doing it, and that is far more important. The strength of one another’s prayers is holding us all through these dark times. It is very difficult to explain how prayer works but I have found the words of William Temple true, over and over again: “when I pray, coincidences happen. When I don’t, they don’t.”
Like most of you, I daresay, I am scared a lot of the time: scared of the virus, scared for people I love, scared for our NHS and other key workers, scared for our nation, scared for our church, scared for the future……
And, when I am not scared, I am frustrated: frustrated at not being to get on with my work as I normally do, frustrated at not being able to move forward the exciting plans we were making as a church, frustrated at not being able to be there for people in person, frustrated because I am in lockdown safely in a comfortable home whilst others are out there, risking their lives…..
We are all in the same boat. I am not asking for sympathy! But I am keenly aware that people are praying for me and that is what is holding me steady. I have also been amazed at the “co-incidences” that keep happening to me: the unexpected phone call just when I need a cheerful voice; the freshly baked cake appearing on my doorstep just as I had finished an exhausting hour wrestling with technology; the sudden urge to make a phone call myself to someone who then tells me that “God must have sent me into their life at that moment,” the many messages of appreciation for the online worship, many of which have appeared in my inbox just as I am feeling frustrated at not being able to do anything.
And the thing about feeling the power of other people’s prayers in your own life, is that it encourages you to keep on praying for them. If the power of prayer is working in my life then surely my prayers will make a difference to other people’s lives. So, I keep praying; praying for specific needs as they arise; praying after reading/hearing the News; I am even working my way through the Church Directory so that I am linked, through prayer, with every one of our church members and friends.
Thank-you all so very much that you keep on praying. Thank-you for praying for me. Thank-you for praying for our church and for our nation and for our world. Thank-you for praying for each other. And even when you are too tired, too angry, too scared to feel that you can pray “properly,” just pray anyway!
One of the slides shown just before our church services says,
“Prayer does not change God’s Purpose. Prayer releases God’s purpose.”
So please, keep safe and keep praying,
With love and good wishes to you all,