September 2022

We live in troubling times, when many of us have real concerns about our lives. It is often in the difficult times that we turn to prayer. Someone recently said to me that they pray to God because “where else can I turn”. They went on to say that what they loved about prayer was that they could tell God anything about life that was worrying them, and that they were stressed about, and that usually prayer made them feel better and more relaxed. I must admit that I too find it really helpful to talk to God about the difficulties in life that I have to deal with, and He makes a difference. It’s not that the problems disappear but that I find a new strength to deal with them, or sometimes a creative way to resolve it.

The thing is, we can get disappointed sometimes if, when we pray, we don’t get the answer we want, or the result isn’t the way we thinking. Sometimes I am told that answers to prayer are merely a coincidence, but as Archbishop William Temple famously said “When I pray, coincidences happen; when I stop praying, the coincidences stop happening!” The thing is, when we ask for God to do something for us, firstly, we must ask ourselves… is it the sort of thing that God would do; is it in line with his character. If it isn’t, may be we shouldn’t be asking, but if it is, do we pray with even the smallest of faith that it might be fulfilled? The Bible is honest in telling us that our prayers may not always be answered, but God still cares for us even when we can’t understand what’s going on.

Faith is God’s gift to us; faith grows as we persist in prayer. We might be asking and asking and wondering if our prayer will be answered. God is faithful, but sometimes we have to be persistent; to just keep praying. I don’t know whether you have had this experience, but I think it sheds a bit of light on the issue of persistence in prayer. When my sons were younger, they would talk about “things” they would want coming up to Christmas or birthdays. Sometimes they were just a momentary “I’d like that!” kind of request, but for some items there would be a verbalised desire for such and such that developed over weeks or months (and sometimes a year). For some prayers that we pray, I think God is the wise Father making sure we really want what we are asking for.

Sometimes we need to learn that praying isn’t just praying words – it can be us just being still in God’s presence. When we are still or when we are in a place where are minds are not full of stuff that’s going on; God get’s a chance to speak to us. If you find it difficult to be in that place, I found a great quote from Gemma Hunt in a book on “How to Pray”. She says:

When I pause, I like using these three steps:

1. Relax. Sit comfortably, and let go of any tension in your body.

2. Breathe. Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Keep going until you get into a nice slow rhythm.

3. Smile. Say “Hello God” and wait for him to love you and smile back.

If, when you’ve asked God to speak about something that concerns you, don’t over think or try too hard to hear Him – my experience is that he will drop a thought into your mind – often when you’re doing something else, but conversations are like that, I find.

“When I pray, coincidences happen; when I stop praying, the coincidences stop happening!

I hope that you might be encouraged to try praying, again or more….. and my prayer is that you may experience many more God-incidences in your life.