#10. Pray like… 6:5-6 (5:7-8, 5:44)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – NRSV
I’m sure I am not alone in experiencing the prayer that turns into a mini sermon in the middle of the church service. The one that quotes the bible and attempts to teach those around, and also perhaps show off some of the fancy prayer language they can use.
I don’t want to be cynical about prayer and please don’t misunderstand me, I recognise the importance of prayer but as Matthew asks of us today, it is time to consider how we pray and to make sure our prayers are more than fancy words.
At Moreland we embrace our catholic (universal) roots and light candles as a marker for prayer in our service each week. The candles are lit with words usually and follow with either an ‘Amen!’ or a ‘Lord hear our prayer’. Matthew challenges our understanding of communal prayer life and our personal ramblings to God.
We are called to be people of integrity in prayer before God and to offer our intercessions as those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, the deep groaning’s of our souls.
But if anyone is like me, I can’t sit in the quiet and simply pray. The silence usually plays havoc with my mind and I do find the secret places of my life taking on different forms.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, is a hero of mine when thinking about prayer and meditation. I first discovered meditative/prayer walking as described by this man in 2011. Walking or running to a mantra and in many ways letting your mind unravel a bit like Leunig’s cartoon below brings a new freedom. Part of my commitment to be a person who is peaceful and a healer and reconciler is to be connected to the land around me. Running/Walking the Moonee ponds creek daily is a prayer practice of mine that connects me into the sacred around me and helps me listen for the small silent voice of God.
My reward that I see and hear each time I pray this way is the beauty and peace that is around me. I sometimes loose sight of it, but the prayer life I have in secret makes it come alive again, as I seek to be with my God in the unravelling of my mind.
Prayer will look different for each us and I suspect that those of us who use scripture to pray are doing it in their own way and I commend that. The psalms we sing and pray are the deep groaning’s and high delights of David and others, a prayer language of honesty and integrity.
It might be time to have a look at how we pray; perhaps it’s been a while since you shot a prayer upward. Go for a walk, sit in the fresh air or pickup the book of psalms and find one that resonates with where you are today.
There is reconciliation in prayer and a freedom to be found as we reconnect with God who dwells not up there in the clouds but deep within us already percolating the prayers that are yet to become words…