Monday, 12 September 2011

What is Prayer? - Personal Ponderings.

I'll admit it - I struggle with prayer. Yes - this Curate's wife just doesn't get it. It's not that I don't pray - it's just that often I struggle with  'corporate' prayer - although at other times, it is reassuring to join in with familiar words that come readily to mind because of years of sitting in Anglican church pews. I have read books about prayer and tried to understand how we are supposed to respond in prayer. But it is being able to be still and silent when I feel closer to God - on top of the mountain, in a magnificent empty cathedral with a vaulted ceilings, in the middle of a flowering meadow or on an empty beach. I need to be somewhere where I can still my mind and put down the day's events- and that is not usually in Church. I need space to be and to give thanks.

Why does open or shared prayer still make me feel so uncomfortable? I didn't experience this until I was in my twenties.  I have had years to get use to it but so often I feel I am listening to someone's shopping list of requests or relaying of community problems. Surely God knows what we need and He must be aware of the problems that may surround us? I don't want to open my heart for everyone else to chew over my problems.

Should we all be saying the same prayers - when we are all individuals? Are we suppose to babble away individually at God all the time? Think of the film Bruce Almighty  where Bruce is given God's powers for a week - and he hears all the people praying all the time.

Why do I feel so prickly being prayed for - yet other people find it so powerful? Why do 'Holy huddles' make me feel awkward and ...yes I'll admit it  - embarrassed.

How are we supposed to pray?

What is prayer?


  1. Big questions... I can totally relate, tho. As a "cultural Christian-raised Episcopalian (code for USA Church of England ;) )--I was always uncomfortable with the greetings-blessings-and in general public praying activities. I completely agree with your observations. Were I in England, I would love to go on some of your outings to the places that you so beautifully record with your camera. Those are the places wherein methinks we would find God. Prayer optional. ;)

  2. Hmm. I guess Jesus said two contradictory things about prayer. "Go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your father in secret," " Don't be like the pagans who think they will be heard because of their many words," as well " where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them."
    Like you, I pray best in silence and solitude, in mountains, beaches, or my own room.
    Corporate prayer, esp. the fairly dreadful reading out long prayers from a written sheet which they do in my otherwise fab new church, can be so boring, that I sometimes check email and blog comments on my iPhone by the time the reader has reached page 3.
    In small groups however, I have had numerous instances of things breaking through and happening because people have sincerely prayed for me which would not have otherwise happened. You can sometimes tell things will change because of the sincerity in people's voices as they pray for you.
    And things have changed in other people's lives because of group prayer.
    So both have value, and both can be difficult. I find I need both because my individual fervour for prayer can waver and grow faint, and then I need my passion to be reignited by other people's passion.

  3. Two thoughtful helpful comments.
    We are of one mind Elizabeth!
    Thank you Anita - I suppose I feel challenged because of being 'The wife of..'. I have always gone back to "Go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your father in secret," perhaps because it suits me. Our present church seems to demand more .....not sure I am up to it at the moment.