Tonight we are discussing Chapter 3: Pray!” of the Rev. Scott Gunn’s book: The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. In any discussions about prayer, the question arises about how do we learn to pray. How can we make prayer part of daily life? In our discussion tonight, please share your insights into the question. Rev. Gunn gives us several areas in which we can learn to pray daily.
Prayer at Mealtimes:
If we want to learn to pray daily, the easiest place to start is at mealtimes. Praying at a meal models Jesus’ own prayer at the Last Supper. See, Matt 26:26-29. Jesus’ prayer provides us with a simple template that we can follow – take, thanks, and give – all of which occurs in the presence of a close community. Thanksgiving, rejoicing, and supplications are the very essential elements of prayer. Phil. 4:4-7.
Mealtimes also provide a set time and place for prayer to occur. Part of making prayer a part of daily life is having a set time to pray a set prayer. Praying at mealtimes gives us this opportunity to develop a life of prayer.
Talking to God:
At its simplest, prayer is simply talking to God. One of the best examples of this type of prayer is Robert Duvall in one of the opening scenes of “The Prophet.” In this clip, Duvall is yelling at God (almost like Job) expressing not only his love and thanksgiving but also his anger and confusion. As we looked at repeatedly in Prayer in the Night, talking to God is not always about sunshine and puppies, but about what is truly going on in our lives. We are to not only talk to God about our thanksgivings, our blessings, and our celebrations, but also about our doubts, our fears, and our concerns.
Set Form of Prayers:
Again, as we looked at repeatedly in Prayer in the Night, our Book of Common Prayer can pray for us when we no longer can pray for ourselves. When we lack the words or even the belief to formulate our prayers, the BCP can carry us. We have several great resources in the BCP. Not only is there Morning and Evening Prayer, but the Daily Devotionals (p.137) is also a good place to start. Another good resource is the Prayers and Thanksgivings (p.814). These are short prayers that can be said individually or corporately in almost any situation.
But in their sheer diversity, the Psalms (p. 581) provide the most complete set form of prayers that we have. (And these are the prayers that Jesus himself used.) The psalms in the BCP are divided into 60 generally equal parts which allow us to pray the entire Psalter every thirty days (once in the morning and once in the evening). A daily reading of the Psalter is a good place to start a daily prayer life.
Another way to pray is to pray tactilely. In prayer, our minds often wander and tactile objects can keep our minds focused. The most traditional tactile prayers are the use of prayer beads. Other methods may be simply to hold a cross or other object during prayer. Another ancient tactile method of prayer is walking a labyrinth or simply a path. The walking itself becomes part of the prayer and helps to focus the spirit.
As we have looked at before, there are other means of prayer as well. We have previously looked at prayer as simply a matter of breathing the name of Jesus in silence and contemplation. We can pray through icons to whom those icons represent. Prayer is not limited to particular means or methods, but simply to what works in your life at this particular time.
Rev. Gunn ends his chapter on “Learn” with the following questions:
- When is a time you prayed in a way that helped you grow in your faith?
- What keeps you from praying more readily?
- What might you do to pray in new ways, more often?
- Which of the approaches for praying appeal to you? Write down some ideas for how you might live into this approach. Be specific and realistic for where you are now.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken Oscar. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here!
For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; *Psalm 63:3-7
my lips shall give you praise.
So will I bless you as long as I live *
and lift up my hands in your Name.
My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, *
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,
When I remember you upon my bed, *
and meditate on you in the night watches.
For you have been my helper, *
and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.