Prayer

As we talk to God during our prayers we will no doubt have a different focus to those of last year. They will, however, still include prayers of thanksgiving for all that we have, prayers of confession where we name those things we have done wrong and ask God’s forgiveness; and prayers of petition and intercession asking God’s help for matters which concern us and others. We are reminded that God will answer all our prayers though not necessarily in the way we have requested. It is a wise person who can say ‘thank goodness I didn’t get everything I asked for’. Our needs and our desires change over time and we can only see the present whilst God knows the future. And so we trust him to work for the best for us in our lives. As we pray each day for a group or organisation let’s spend a moment reflecting on our impact on their lives and vice versa. How do we interact and what should we be praying for them? One of the most challenging aspects of living in society today is how to live alongside those with very different views from our own. We see it internationally in the war in Syria, the Sudan, and Central Africa. We see it in the UK with opposing views on immigration controls and over flags in Northern Ireland. In 2014 the Methodist Conference seeks to respond to the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill and the second quinquennial report from the Joint Implementation Commission, ‘The Challenge of the Covenant’ on ecumenical working. As a Church we will be challenged to engage in rigorous debate on issues upon which people will hold very strong, deeply held views of diverse and opposing natures. How well we do this will depend on the strength of our faith and the depths of our love for one another, and must be a part of our prayer life. How well we deal with such diversity on the large scale depends very much in how we manage it in the small scale. Other people can be so annoying can’t they? How do we respond? Hopefully with love and tolerance that we might also receive it when we are the annoying ones. Let us pray for such love and grace by opening up our hearts and minds to God in the way that Joy Webb envisages in the refrain to her hymn 522 in Singing the Faith. Could you see what I’m thinking and know that it’s a prayer? Could you look into my heart and find you’re welcome there? Could I bring you all my hopes and dreams, my moments of despair? Could you take what I am thinking and find that it’s a prayer? A prayer! No need for liturgical language or pious phrases. Just let God into your heart and he will read your mind.