Tonight being a Wednesday i headed off to house group, a group of people from church who meet mid-week to encourage one another in prayer and studying scripture. Since having been encouraged by a friend in my final year of uni to get involved in said group i have been so blessed. They are wonderfully welcoming, generous and so supportive of me in my faith and the work i am involved in. It’s also been so wonderful to see their love of the Lord and their eagerness to want to reach out to their community through maintaining relationships with their neighbours through various events. Truly beautiful and an absolute privilege to be part of.
In particular tonight we had a guy come to speak on prayer, which he would admit is something he has grappled with and is still getting his head around. It was a really thought-provoking evening and made me marvel at how natural prayer should be and what an awesome thing it is that we can at any time communicate with the creator of the entire universe – mind-blowing!
To begin with we were asked to select, from a list of twelve, the top three words we thought best described prayer. These were : communing, meditating, listening, watching, waiting, asking, moaning, demanding, pleading, talking, claiming and thinking.
While i chose communing, listening and asking i couldn’t help but feel that often my prayers can be clouded with moaning and full of me just talking.This then was a challenge, and really helpful, when we then went on to think this through.
The one particular encouragement i took away from the evening was this focus on prayer being us, God’s children, fellowshipping (real word?) with our Father. The guy described prayer as being as natural as us taking each breathe. We often don’t think about it, it just happens. Similarly then so should be our prayer life. As we spend time communicating with God, whether this is during our quite time, or a quick arrow prayer or even listening to God as He prompts us through the day, then we begin to realise how prayer can come naturally rather than forced or as another thing to tick of the Christian to do list.
A challenge then from the evening was the fact that often, despite the amazing privilege it is to talk to God and the fact that Jesus himself saw it as important, prayer meetings are the least attended within the church. Having served as prayer sec during my time at uni i can definitely identify with this. No matter how much you try to encourage others there just doesn’t seem to be a flocking to prayer meetings, unless there is maybe a one-off event. I found this really frustrating at the time but this evening i was challenged as to whether we go about prayer meetings right. Not that the thought in itself is bad at all but maybe the way we go about it. Often we turn up and there is a list of things to pray for or people to pray for. The challenge though was presented when the guy talked about the difference between this kind of prayer meeting, where we are told what to pray for, and the times when nobody needs to tell us to pray but rather we are driven to pray as our hearts are full of compassion. When God has moved us to pray for a certain situation or person.
This left me with a few questions. Why aren’t we as compassionate about coming to pray at the weekly prayer meeting? If there are times when God moves us to pray are we then not responding to God in this particular situation? Or do we just have to accept that people will only come to prayer meetings when they feel moved to do so and those leading the prayer meetings can rest in that?
A thought-provoking evening, still loads to think through but my prayer off the back of this is that of the disciples, Father, teach me to pray.