Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gleanings 10) While I wait..mixed feelings.

Apparently my biopsy result will take at least two weeks to emerge and in this limbo time I have returned to the file of my first year of sermons. Looking through this mass of material (and it is!) I am trying to discern emerging themes as I grew in experience.  My experimental evening services morphed into a series: Words with a Kick with themes like Forgiveness, Faith, Hope.

With mixed feelings I also see a morning series through February 1973 on Prayer. 1) A Dull Duty? which led to two other questions: Is prayer a duty? Yes. Is prayer dull?  Well, it requires persistence like many duties but talking with God steadfastly in prayer leads to deeply satisfying surprising places in God.s will. 2) Parachute or Paraclete? Parachute prayer is for emergency use only and can be very powerful but is used only in a crisis.  Paraclete prayer is about journeying every day with the Holy Spirit our Guide and Comforter (who enables us to say "Abba, Father').  3) Answered or unanswered? God always hears but the answer may be Yes, No, and Wait.  I quoted someone who lamented how his prayers never seemed to work - he'd pray for the sick and they were no better. 'Then I think that it is not good that God should do good in my way. And I do not know what is the best way for God to do good.  I only know that what He wills is the right way. I pray for all that seems good to me to pray for. But when I have done that, I like then to say to God: Do your will.  Do your will.  And I like to think that what He will do, I shall not understand, because me, I have the brain of a little beetle and He is the great God'.    4) The Practice of Prayer  1-Begin with the Father; 2 Practice daily; 3) End with action - 'a good prayer is not tested by our feelings or fervour at the time but by our behaviour afterwards'.

I said 'mixed feelings' because I hadn't at this early stage of ministry led the church in its corporate and personal prayer life to implement any of this.  Good words on Sunday but no joined up thinking, no link, with how we operated practically!  Only later, in my second church did I realize with horror this disconnect.  There's little point in telling people prayer is important if you don't share with them in doing it practically!

I wrote many prayers in this series.  Let me include one:
Lord, you so often astonish us - by granting requests which were only half-formed; by enriching our experience in unexpected ways; by reminding us of factors which we had overlooked.
However you answer our prayers, may the outcome be that we love you more, understand your purposes better and believe in you with greater confidence.  Through Jesus, Amen.

No comments: