It's a strange thing that if you want to shut up a loquacious clergy person, the surest way is to ask them about their prayer life!
However, Sally bravely decided to risk this and has posted a thoughtful Friday Five so I'm combatting my own slightly anxious, slightly shamed reluctance and trying to think about what should be the central activity of my life...prayer.
Here goes! Sally writes
"Part of the Ascension Day Scripture from Acts 11 contains this promise from Jesus;
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Then he was taken from their sight into the clouds, two angels appeared and instructed the probably bewildered disciples to go back to Jerusalem, where they began to wait and to pray for the gift Jesus had promised.
Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....
So how do you wait and pray?
1. How do you pray best, alone or with others?
Best, eh? That's kind of optimistic! I feel least inept when praying with another - even the Office (or maybe specially the Office) becomes a life giving exercise when prayed in company. Thus far I have someone to pray with me on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, but oh I do miss WonderfulVicar and the pattern of Morning and Evening Prayer at St M's...I love praying for people while we are together too - on my own I am far too easily distracted (oh look, a bird!) and will find myself coming to having started out to pray but going for an extended wander in all directions till God nudges me and our conversation resumes along the intended lines.
2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety?
I'm definitely getting less fraught about waiting - though I still can't say with all my heart the Iona refrain "Thank you for the waiting time". The months last year when I knew my curacy was ending but had no sense of what might come next were a really positive exercise in living with God in the present moment - and I think I'm beginning to get it! Maybe....
3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise?
Oh yes...After miscarriage number 3 (part of an extended series which spanned far too many years of my early married life) on the following Sunday I was singing Wesley's anthem "Ascribe unto the Lord" - which includes the words "you are the blessed of the Lord, you and your children". Sounds loopy , but to me those words came as a promise loud and clear, direct from God - and it sustained me through the wait till Hugger Steward appeared. Again, after the Bishops' Selectors had told me that I had no vocation to priesthood, I came home and as I prayed the Office the words of the Benedictus were transformed into a promise that I would in time be ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament
"to give God's people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins".
4. Do you prefer stillness or action?
I struggle with stillness, but when I achieve it it is very precious...But I love the sort of alt worship stations that involve you in a symbolic action which somehow acts as a launch pad for deeper prayer
5. If ( and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to receive?
To answer tongue in cheek, the gift of administration would be wonderous...to answer more honestly, as I struggle to trust Hugger Steward to God's care on his journey to Africa, I guess that trust is in pathetically short supply in these parts.
Now, of course, I'm feeling dangerously vulnerable - but that's part of the deal, isn't it? At least I do hope so...