From the Rector‎ > ‎Letters archive‎ > ‎

Letter for August/September 2012

posted 15 Oct 2012, 12:33 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 15 Oct 2012, 12:46 ]

Dear Friends,

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray...” (Luke 11:1)

The disciples’ plea to Jesus is surely of importance to all who are Christians.  The need to pray, and to have a relationship with our God, lies at the very heart of an authentic and living faith, and Jesus’ reply to his followers is to teach them the Lord’s Prayer as a formula or method of prayer, even though this is more often used as a prayer in its own right.  It begins with a petition of praise to God, and moves on to express the desire that the community that God wills might become an increasing reality among us, through to the hope that God will provide for our daily needs, and then on to the importance of both forgiving others and being forgiven and a plea that we will be protected from all that can harm us, and ending once more with an ascription of praise to our Creator.  It is a very inclusive method of prayer, and one that all Christians can clearly draw upon to good effect.

There are, however, other ways of praying that can also be beneficial.  Elsewhere in this magazine you will see that there are to be three sessions on Intercessory Prayer at the end of August and the start of September at St Kentigern’s Church Hall and led by our Bishop, Dr Bob Gillies.  These sessions are intended:

  • for those who already lead intercessions;
  • for those who might consider doing so; and
  • for anyone who is interested in the topic.

I would encourage as many of you as possible to attend, for it may provide you with some new insights for use in your own times of prayer, encourage you to consider becoming involved in intercessory prayer at Sunday worship or at other times, or just be a time for you to learn something new in the company of others.  The Bishop is a gifted and effective teacher who has run these sessions throughout the Diocese, and all who have attended them have said how much they have received from them.  Why not come along?  You never know in what way god may meet you there!

Ultimately, of course, the actual words or methods used in prayer are of secondary importance.  The primary thing is that we do actually pray!  I also believe that there is a great deal of truth in the old adage: ‘Pray as you can– not as you can’t,’ which means that all ways of praying and communicating with God can be valid if we personally find them beneficial.  This also means that there is no one ‘proper’ way of praying – and if the method or practice we may have been taught long ago no longer seems to satisfy us spiritually then there is no shame in giving this up and finding another way of praying, even if this seems to be outside of what in the past we might have considered to be ‘prayer.’  It need not include particular words – in fact, it need not include words at all! – and can be something very simple and down-to-earth.  The most important thing is that it helps us to in some way communicate with God, who is always more willing to hear than we may be to pray, and who is open to whatever will help us to keep this vital channel of communication open and flowing.  Sadly, there can for some Christians be a lot of guilt surrounding the area of prayer, as we might feel that we don’t pray regularly or fully enough.  But the joy is, that God’s real concern is that we try, in the ways that we can, to keep that relationship going.

So – ‘Pray as you can, not as you can’t’ - and please, allow space for God to speak to you, too!

James Curry, Rector