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Keep it simple!

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 9 June 2013

I read books about prayer: some are helpful, some make it more complicated.

I sometimes preach about prayer and risk adding to the words that complicate.  What a relief to hear someone talking about prayer and making it sound simple!

The Someone was Bishop Rowan Williams at a Quiet Day during the Melanesian Mission, and a good number of St Martin’s people were there, thanks to Richard’s encouragement!

In his first talk Rowan described the relationship between God and ourselves that constitutes prayer.  Our difficulty, often, is not that God is absent but that we are not truly present.  Being fully present, aware of where and how we are, is a prerequisite to a time of prayer.  Attentiveness may be a good description of prayer: switching off from distractions, being still and quiet within ourselves, then being open and listening.

We watched the Melanesian Brothers and Sisters enact the story of the “prodigal son”, filling it with energy and humour.  The son became a Solomon Islander leaving home for a distant country (England) “to squander his wealth in dissolute living,” which you can imagine.  Rowan then drew the parallel between God and the father of the “prodigal” (Luke 15.11).  He is always watching and waiting for us, always loving, always ready to forgive.  “God can’t help himself, that’s the way God is.”  To encounter that God in our prayer can hep us to grow as people who also love and forgive in our own lives.  God is always there, waiting for us to come back or get in touch, however faithless or lost we may think ourselves to be.

The above does little justice to Rowan’s eloquence, wisdom and simplicity!  But I’m left thinking that prayer can be simple, if not always easy.  Beware the theologians who make it sound complicated?!

Revd Colin Midlane