O God, make speed to save us:
Our help is in the name of the Lord:
This coming Sunday the Christian Formation Commission is hosting the first Sunday Fun Day and will revolve around prayer. In the upcoming gospel reading the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray like John taught his disciples.” In response Jesus gives them, and us, what has become known as the Lord's Prayer.
I've been meeting with a couple over the past several months in preparation for their wedding at the end of October. This past session dealt with prayer and we talked about times and styles of prayers. Everything from when to how often to formulas to simple liturgies. I told them a story about a monk who, when asked what was the right kind of prayer, said, “The kind you do.”
In other words, prayer forms and styles and times change over time. The trick is to keep at it. And if one form or style or time no longer works for you, then make a change – but keep praying.
Show of hands: How many of you, when you read the first two lines up there, answered either in your mind or out loud, “O Lord, make haste to help us,” and, “The maker of heaven and earth?”
These are part of the opening lines to Evening Prayer and Compline as found in the Prayer Book. If you pray these Daily Offices regularly you probably automatically filled in the response when you read those opening sentences. That's part of the beauty of the BCP and daily prayer – the words become a part of you.
There's an old saying that goes, “lex orandi, lex credendi.” That is, “what we pray is what we believe.”
Prayer isn't a list of requests we send up to God. Prayer isn't the 75 cents we put into the holy vending machine so we can get item C7. Prayer is the daily conversation, the daily formation, that helps shape our lives. How we pray and what we pray shapes how we interact with those around us. If we pray, “deliver us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge,” on a daily basis, that will most likely have a different outcome than if we pray, “may God utterly demolish my enemies” on a daily basis.
May we all have a set of prayers that grounds us, informs us, and guides us. And may that give us the strength to follow Christ on this difficult road of discipleship.