With the changing of our seasons, Creation linked with Action - prayer beyond words, seems a good theme for this months newsletter. Read Psalm 8 for yourself and marvel at the dignity of the human person. And give thanks in prayer to God for particular people, who reveal God’s loving presence to you. Then reflect on who has helped you get to this point in your faith journey. Also read Psalm 104 where God is revealed in his natural world. All is a gift to us and with the psalmist lets give thanks for the glory of God’s creation. Consider: Where do I see this awesome glory revealed in my life and the larger world?
Wherever we are on our journey, we can take some action to make this world a better place. N.T. Wright says here: “What you do in the present — by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbour as yourself — will last into God’s future.These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a bit less beastly, a bit more bearable, until the day when we leave it altogether. They are part of what we may call building God’s kingdom”.
Biblically, the trouble of being a prophet in Eisha’s time was that everyone expected you to know how to say the right prayers — the kind that would rescue terrible situations. So, when the people of Jericho started dying because of a polluted water source, the most obvious course of action was to go to the prophet and get him to pray the right prayer (2 kings 2:19-22). What came to him in the end was not a poetic utterance; it was an action. His prayer was to throw salt into the spring. Elisha’s friends must have got used to his rather physical approach to prayer. His prayer to rescue a lost axe-head was to drop a stick in the river (2 Kings 6:1-7), and his prayer to neutralise the poison in a stew was to mix flour into it (2 Kings 4:38-41). He even persuaded Naaman to wash seven times in a muddy river, as a prayer to have his leprosy healed (2 Kings 5:9-14).
How about you ? Have you ever tried to pray without using words? Trying it: *Our lives are full of activities, many of which make good ‘action prayers’ if we do them prayerfully. Think of a difficult or unpleasant practical task in the house or garden that needs doing. Before starting, think of a difficult situation that you’re praying for currently. Then, let your physical actions become prayers for that situation. Perhaps the scrubbing of ingrained dirt expresses your longing to see forgiveness and reconciliation; perhaps repairing something expresses your desire to see God rebuild broken lives; perhaps the business of weeding, digging and planting expresses your prayer to see new growth in your church or family.
Talking it: *Have you personally, seen someone do something with such heart and determination that its felt more like a prayer than an action. I have! * When we pray together in church or in our small groups, what can we do to become more active and less wordy in prayer? Over to you! But we would really love to have your feedback on this or anything else in this newsletter.
Sustaining it:* One of the easiest prayer actions is prayer walking, which we do at St Margaret’s. It’s the simple, physical act of praying for a place by being there. Elisha may have used his salt, sticks and flour, but we use our bodies, planting our feet on the ground in the roads of Barming , where we long to see God’s kingdom come and him helping people with their problems. Pick a place - Is there a route you walk or drive often, or is there a part of Barming you long to see transformed? That’s the best place to start your rhythm of prayer walking. Each time you go to that place or follow that familiar route, travel it as an act of prayer.
Be the prayer:* You will probably find that all sorts of thoughts and ideas bubble up in your mind, but try to resist the temptation to make prayers out of words. This is a prayer action, so your prayer is your physical act of walking! As you take each step, imagine it’s a prayer. If the place needs peace, walk slowly and calmly; if you’re longing for a breakthrough, stride out purposefully; if your prayer is thankfulness and gratitude, walk with a spring in your step. Letting your physical actions be the prayer. On a more general note, please pray about, joining our Road Prayer team who would really welcome you joining them collecting prayers or praying whilst they are out.
What’s your hobby? Mine are walking, pilates and running. Make some time in the coming week to do something you love. If you’re particularly busy your hobby may be the thing you do to wind down or switch off, but this time it’s going to be an act of prayer - not switching off from the world, but switching on to the presence of God. Before you begin your activity, thank God for it; it’s a gift from him after all. Then invite him to join you in it, by his Spirit. As you do your activity, give it your best, as a sign of your love for him. Most of all - really enjoy it.
It’s easy to assume that praying for people involves formulating a few sentences about them, and then speaking them to
God. But what about praying for someone through your actions instead of your words. Next time then, you do something for someone - make them a cup of coffee, give them a hug or carry a heavy bag for them - let your action express to God the prayer in your heart for them.
Finally please pray for residents living in Hermitage Lane, Oakapple Lane, Edmund close, Barming Walk, Robinson Ave, Copper Beech close and Fullingpits Lane. There were several prayers for guidance with schools, churches and various health problems.
Praying God’s blessings over you
David (and Fliss)
Ps. Please remember you are always welcome at Wed evening prayer 7-730pm and Fri morning prayer 7-8am in St Margarets