Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prayer: the original self-help

In today's Gospel passage (Luke 11:1-13), Jesus introduces us to a prayer that we now know as The Lord's Prayer.

First, the introduction and focus on this prayer give us the opportunity to reflect on our own personal prayer discipline.

We in the Anglo-Catholic tradition have a great tool in our formulaic prayer books in that the repetition of a prayer often enables us to appreciate the prayer on a more profound level, however our familiarity with a prayer can also enable us to mentally "check out" as our mouths form the words of the prayer.  So the first thing I would invite you to do is perhaps revisit some of these familiar prayers and refocus on them, phrase by phrase, word by word.  I am fairly certain your will rediscover a sanctity that is in those prayers that you had perhaps lost through familiarity.

Second, it also gives us the opportunity to reflect on what prayer is, and perhaps more importantly, what prayer isn't.  Many of us have probably gone through the child-like phase of prayer where we pray for things: wealth, possessions, etc.  What we are actually doing is confusing God with Santa Claus, and we need to grow past that.

We have likely gone through periods where we have prayed for a particular outcome, either for ourselves or others, and that outcome has not come to pass.  Although our motives are perhaps more laudable, we are nonetheless still treating God like a wish-fulfillment cafeteria.  Once again, we need to grow past that.

The truth is that prayer is much less about the results, less about the answers, and much more about the questions.

Most modern psychology and self-help invites us to something called "mindfulness".  This is the act of taking the time and effort to be more aware of our feelings and to ponder where they come from and what we are going to do about it.

This is the power of prayer.  Prayer is not a manifesto or ultimatum.  It is not magic.  It is the act of bringing something from our subconscious into our conscious.  It is the act of conversing with the divine.  It is the act of outwardly expressing that which is lies on our heart.

To hear my sermon from this week, click here to download the podcast.  It's not in MP3 as I had to record it on my phone:)  Hope that doesn't cause any problems.

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