What is prayer?
Different people would answer this question in different ways and no one way is ‘right.’
Life is prayer, seeing, touching, sensing… silence… speaking… our souls resonating with the rhythm of creation.
Prayer takes many forms.
Weekly thought and prayer for 12 May 2021
A 10-year-old child says to a doting grandfather, “I don’t believe in God anymore.” “Why not?” the old man asks. “Because I cannot see God, or touch him, or hear him. I don’t think God exists,” says the child. “Well, I understand” says the grandfather. “What is a rose?” “A flower, grandpa. Don’t be daft!” Yes, it is a flower,” he says. “Like most flowers, it has petals, a stem, some leaves, a pistil, and a stamen. You can study roses in science class. Now, when have you seen a rose?”
“I think,” the child responds, “it was on Valentine’s Day when Dad gave Mum some roses, and then they kissed. I was embarrassed.” “And why did he give her roses?” “I don’t know.” “Roses are a symbol of love. Your parents were saying that they love each other. Have you ever seen love?” the old man asks the young child. “Not really, but I know that my Mum and Dad love me!” “How do you know if you cannot see love?” “Well, they do things that tell me. They tuck me in bed at night, they come to my school concerts and sometimes they let me stay up late and watch my favourite film with me.”
“So is that like the roses on Valentine’s Day?” “Yes, I suppose so” the child says. The grandfather smiles and replies, “Now, how about this? ‘A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.’” “That’s silly, grandpa! Of course, a rose is a rose!” “I know, but the poet who wrote it is trying to tell us about something that words cannot describe. She wants us to know about the extreme loveliness of another person. She is trying to make real in words a thing of beauty. It is impossible, but then, that is what poetry tries to do, to convey the impossible. What if all we say about God is poetry? What if we are trying to describe something that you cannot see, hear, or touch, but is as real as your Mum and Dad’s love for you?”
“Grandpa, you’re strange! Can I go out and play now?”
Taken from a sermon by Rev Philip L. Blackwell (The Chicago Temple – Methodist Church Chicago, IL)
… and a Poetic Spirit
For many, the Psalms of our Christian and Hebrew Bibles are a ‘go to’ place to seek comfort, inspiration, therapy, daily guidance, songs of inspiration and spiritual renewal. Spiritual renewal in the poetry that expresses what we feel but cannot quite grasp. Spiritual renewal in our familiarity with the words and the way we have internalised their message. A response to the poetic spirit that underpins our faith – we feel the words come alive and experience God through the poetry.
“Do not fret” (v1, 7 & 8). I think we have all worried about the public health crisis at one time or another over the past fifteen months. It has intruded into our personal and family lives. Plans have had to go on hold and if we’d never really thought about it, we now know that distancing is not what we were made for! And we have been heart-broken by the images and stories from nearby and faraway. There are many responses we can choose to make – the psalmist suggests a God-centred response. The psalmist pleads with us, in a very personal way, not to fret.
“Take delight in the Lord” (v4). We are made in the image of God. I beg your pardon? Yes, we are ALL made in the image of God and when we reconnect with the divine, possibilities open up. We can join in what some translations call prosperity, but coming from the word shalom, this is a prosperity defined by wholeness, soundness, completion, safety and security. What an offer – as the psalmist intones – seek and take delight in God.
“Be still before the Lord” (v7). There is a revealing order to the progression of this psalm:
“Do not fret.” “Take delight in the Lord.” “Be still before the Lord.”
Make the time and seek the image of God that you were created to be.
As we become still and seek again to know that you are Lord;
Calm our anxiety and mental turmoil as we approach you in prayer.
Guide us as we seek to retrieve and restore what we have lost.
Guide us as we seek to explore new opportunities.
Guide us as we seek to grow and develop in our love and service of you.
In Jesus we know that all things are made new and we say “thank you”.
We look to the future with that blessed assurance that comes only from you.
Your will be done.