is the title of our Lent course this year. Four speakers are each considering a different aspect of/approach to prayer, in the course of a bread and soup supper for Christian Aid. The hope is that some new insights and suggestions may help to raise the profile of prayer as an effective agent of God's transformation in the life of our parish, and I'd envisaged that the Lent groups that are meeting later in the week could simply share their own experiences of the different material that is being offered. However, St M's is deeply wedded to the written word, and there was panic in the air as I told them that "No, I hadn't ordered sufficient copies of the Lent book, because there wasn't one this year."
So this evening I've been looking for discussion starters, pulling assorted books from my shelves and doing a little gentle surfing around the theme " What is prayer?". I'd forgotten just how wonderful Stephen Cottrell's Praying through Life is....the first three chapters provided almost exactly what I needed and I'm going to bed tonight pondering his words
"Prayer is the most natural thing in the world. It can also be the hardest. Because it is relationship it is about letting go and allowing someone else to be at the centre of your life. In so many ways, the human spirit will recoil from this kind of loving. We like to be at the centre ourselves."
And the corresponding quote from Henri Nouwen
“When we are invited to pray, we asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin”
Of course, if your hands are clenched shut, you can neither give nor receive...and it takes courage to risk all on the chance that you are loved. Prayer is never for the faint hearted.