Prayer is communicating with God. It's a conversation that doesn't have to include words. Prayer is speaking, thinking, sitting still, listening or moving in the remembered presence of God. You can pray on your own or with other people, in a church or in an office, sitting with you eyes closed or walking with your eyes wide open. But all this can be a bit vague unless we find a sustainable habit of praying.
For most of us, some kind of pattern is helpful. The Christian church has developed patterns of daily prayer throughout its history. At St Mary's, the church bell once again rings out on Upper Street to call people to prayer and we gather to pray every day of the year (apart from a handful of holidays).
In our daily morning prayer:
- We meet in the church, often in the small chapel near the entrance. Mondays to Saturdays, prayer starts at 9.30am. We finish at 10.00.
- We say some written prayers together, including one of the Psalms. The Psalms are the prayer-book of the Hebrew Scriptures and it's good to say the same prayers that Jesus and his earliest followers prayed. Some of the Psalms say some surprising things. There's a whole range of human experience and emotion here.
- We read two passages from the Bible. We believe that we can draw close to God by reading the Bible. The readings we use are the same as those used by churches across the world. We then talk about the readings. Sometimes we notice something that is curious or puzzling. Sometimes we recognise something that's really relevant to today's world. It's good to explore together.
- We pray for needs of the world in our own words. We're not afraid to pray in silence but anyone can pray aloud about an issue or situation in the world around us. We pray the Lord's Prayer. It's the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they said that they didn't know how to pray. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we pray that God's Kingdom will come on earth as in heaven.
- We ask for God's blessing on of us as we start our day.
If you're unable to join us, you can find the full words of today's Morning Prayer service below (we don't use them all) or click this link to see the service in a separate window.