Someone sent me this the other day...it's taken from a radio interview (Terry Wogan, apparently) with Archbishop Rowan, and reminded me for the second time in a week, just what is so wonderful about the man. After all, he's clearly one of the highest of high achievers intellectually, and you could say (though it might be debatable) that to become Archbishop of Canterbury was a successful career move (!)...but, in the things that matter most, he really understands where truth lies. As a chronic "could do better, must try harder" type, I so need to read, learn, mark and inwardly digest this
"There is something about sunbathing I think that tells us more about what prayer is than any amount of religous jargon. When you're lying on the beach or under the lamp, something is happening, something that has nothing to do with how you feel or how hard you are trying. You're not going to get a better tan by screwing up your eyes and concentrating. You give the time, and that's it. All you have to do is turn up. And then things change, at their own pace. You just have to be there, where the light can get to you.
Now people often get the impression that prayer is anxiously putting on your best clothes and finding acceptable things to say in the right sort of language - oh, and concentrating, of course. But when, in the Bible, Jesus advises his friends about how to pray, he tells them not to worry about any of this. Just say "Father", he tells them. Just be confident that you are welcome as you would be at home. All you need to so is te be where the light can get at you - and in this case, the light of God's love.
So you give the time and let go of trying hard (and actually, that's the really difficult bit). And God is there, always. You don't need to fight for his attention or make yourself acceptable because he's glad to see you. And he'll make a difference while you're not watching, just by radiating who and what he is in your direction. All he asks is that you stay there with him for abit, in the light. And for the rest, you just trust him to get on with it.