Simon's letter March 2010

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Waiting to pray?

I can still vividly remember the first time I was asked to pray aloud. It was in a gathering of about 10 people in my hall of residence at Southampton University during my second week there in the Autumn of 1984. The meeting had just finished, it was nearly time to go and have our evening meal and I was asked to close the meeting in prayer. I tried to make excuses and wriggle out of it, but was firmly (but kindly) asked to pray. I don’t remember the words I used, but I remember the dread fear of doing so. Fear of saying the wrong thing; of the words coming out in a muddle, of praying something that was inappropriate; or worst of all, saying something that God would find offensive. Well, 20 seconds later and having broken out into a great sweat, I had done as I was asked. I said my first public prayer. I doubt that it was a great prayer, but I was thanked for doing so by the person who asked me with a genuine smile.

I wonder how many of my thoughts and feelings you would echo? How many of them would still be true if you tried to pray alone, never mind praying aloud in a room with other people?

Twenty five years after that first experience, I now find myself in the shoes of the person who first asked me. Now it is my turn to be asking people to pray for the first time. Maybe I should admit a little secret. I now think that some of the best prayers are spoken by people with little experience of praying aloud. The act of will to overcome the hesitations, fears and emotions so often produces a heartfelt and honest prayer. Such prayers, if they were written down, might not get high marks in an English Literature exam, but they get high marks in the halls of heaven. Lets just remember one of those prayers as recorded in the Bible. In 1 Samuel chapter 1 Hannah was barren. She was desperate for a child and prayed in the temple. Her prayers were so mumbled and incoherent the priest thought she was drunk. God didn’t. He heard and answered her prayer.

Let us be courageous and bring our prayers to God - both quietly on our own, but in public too.

God bless,

 

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Rev'd. Simon Gill Telephone: Sudbury 375334

e- mail: vicar@allsaints-sudbury.co.uk