When we started this sabbatical we said it was going to be a personal journey of exploration as we examined in detail claims and practices about prayer. It has been a challenging time and as we start to pull together all the threads that we have so far learnt that is still the case. We have visited 3 Cathedrals, attended prayer meetings in churches great and small, been taught in a Prayer School, visited a Christian retreat centre, watched videos on prayer, Live-streamed events and read numerous books. We have looked for the evidence of their various claims and then given it the Litmus test of our own experiences. Some claims simply do not stack up, others seem to have elements of truth and some are incredibly far fetched.
We have tried to approach this with a blank canvas and not our own preconceived ideas and through it all God has been speaking to us and subtly changing not what we believe, because that is fundamental to us, but more about who we are and what we see we are.
God wants us to be people, men and women, of Prayer. We pray but often we don't see that that is what we should be: people of prayer. What that prayer is like will be unique to each of us, as we have a unique relationship with a creator God who speaks uniquely with each of us. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening, before they had a need or had sin to confess, they were just happy to be in His presence, a unique experience. So our prayer times will be inherently different at different times and in different formats and in different language, some love litugy to help frame these times, other speak like speaking to a friend or lover, others still come before an awe inspiring God. No one way is right, but we are all called to have this one to one communion with the Lord and Master of the Universe and the Lord and Master of our hearts.
So a thought to finish with: Numbers 6:22-27 New Living Translation (NLT) The Priestly Blessing
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: 24 ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.25 May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.26 May the Lord show you his favour and give you his peace.’
How do we pray this? The answer it is for us to Bless not to ask God to Bless. That is a subtle difference, but a powerful one. I have started Blessing you, not asking God to Bless you; if I wake up in the night to use the bathroom rather than complain I am awake I spend the few minutes before I return to sleep using this to Bless YOU by name. Not asking God to do it, as he has given that authority to me, and now in the New Testament time to you as the priesthood of all believers. Its our joy and responsibility to do this. Give it a go, it may seem alien at first but it is incredibly empowering knowing we can Bless you. Jesus told his disciples that when they entered a house that welcomed them they had to leave THEIR Peace behind.....not His PEACE . Matthew 10 :13.