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From “Stuck” to “Without Ceasing”

FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

Prayer. It’s one of the most basic elements of Christian life. Prayer is the thing that the Apostle Paul instructs us to do “without ceasing”. Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that it is also one of the areas of spiritual life that is in the greatest danger of becoming stagnant and rote. Years ago I noticed how quickly I always said the Lord’s Prayer—so much so that it became automatic. Which is why now, you may notice that I tend to say it exceptionally slowly…an attempt to give attention to each word and imbue each phrase with purpose and intention.

Sometimes our prayer lives can feel “stuck”…we go through the same prayers, the same methods. At times we may wonder what the point of it is. Often our corporate prayers become nothing more than a list of all the people we know who are sick or having surgery. Is naming people who we want to pray for the same as a prayer itself?

Karl Kuhn makes the argument in his book, Having Words with God, that scripture is dialogical, a means of conversing with God. I agree, which then leads me to think that reading scripture itself can be prayer. At its most elementary that is what prayer is: talking with God. This has me thinking a lot lately, because as my husband points out “talking with” is different than “talking to” someone. When someone is displeased with us we might receive a “talking-to”. When we talk to someone, there is an implicit message that what we have to say is the focus, whereas talking with someone indicates we are just as willing to listen as we are to talk. I wonder just how much time we spend “listening” in prayer vs “listing” our prayers. Maybe it’s time to start listening more so that we might hear what it is God has to say about those things for which we pray. Over the next few months I intend to spend a bit more time exploring this theme of “prayer” that I might enrich my prayer life and hear God more. Some questions to consider: The content or the intent of our prayers. Does repeating or reading the “Jesus Prayer” and other such prescribed prayers accomplish anything or is it more about our attitude as we pray? Is promising to pray for someone or asking others to pray for someone a prayer in itself? What does prayer “do?”  I hope to share these insights with you in the coming months, perhaps offering opportunities and resources for us to deepen both our individual and corporate life of prayer. What questions do you have about

prayer? How might we, as a community of faith, strengthen one another’s prayer life? I look forward to hearing from you as we consider how we might “keep the conversation going” with God and with one another.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Tara