I wonder how many people said a prayer for Andy Murray before or during the recent Wimbledon final? Probably a few more folk than will actually admit to doing so!
In reality many of us pray asking God to help us in all kinds of situations – please give me a parking space; please help me to stay calm; please don’t let me be late, please let us have a really good holiday; please help me pass this exam or get through the interview; please give us fine weather. The list is endless and we genuinely want God to hear and answer our prayers.
William Temple, a previous Archbishop of Canterbury, once said that when he prayed coincidences happened, and when he did not they did not! Prayer does make a difference in many ways, but not always in the ways we might expect! We have a God who is full of surprises.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is reputed to have said that he was far too busy not to pray for at least two hours a day! The problem for us is that all too often we manage to pray for just two seconds when we are desperate and want a quick fix.
Prayer is something that we need to work at daily. Our handbook, the Bible, tells us that it should be. Right at the start of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus himself goes out to pray “very early in the morning, while it was still dark” and before his trial and crucifixion he prayed so hard that he sweated blood. Paul prayed regularly for the young churches he had established and writes to tell the Colossians “we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith”. But Paul also prays with thanksgiving. He talks about “joyfully giving thanks to the Father” for the people in Colossae.
Prayer can be joyful, enjoyable and rewarding especially if we remember to thank God for his answers to our prayers and if they are shared with others, all praying for same thing, all seeing answers given by God to our requests – sometimes these may be dramatic, often less so, but no less important. So pray the urgent little prayers when they are needed but pray about the bigger things too.
One way to help us pray for each other in our Benefice is to use our Prayer Line where it is possible to telephone Barbara on 01789 748290 and ask for prayer for a person or a situation where there are problems and where you feel that the prayers of others could be of help. Phone the number and very quickly a goodly number of people will be mobilised to pray – then we should see a few more coincidences happening around us! But remember to say thank you to God – not least for the wonderful summer weather we are experiencing as I write this!
Have a great summer!