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Posts Tagged ‘A Call to Spiritual Reformation’

My distractibility and butterfly mind can be a creative strength. What they are not, however, is an aid to focussed prayer.

Reading my bible and devotional material is one thing, but a concentrated session of prayer often seems too much to tackle. It has recently, at least.

Do the Next Thing Prayer

A prayer meeting is fine, getting together with my prayer partner is great, but me, praying on my own, that’s too big. So in this year of Doing the Next Thing, I need to learn to commit to doing prayer as the Next Thing.

And so last week I was prompted to return to the best aid I’ve found for reducing distraction in prayer – the most excellent PrayerMate App (also available for Apple products). I have my PrayerMate sorted out so that I start with reading things – a psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, the Church of England Collect for the day. Then I pray for family, friends and further afield. I’d forgotten I’d set my prayers up like that, it had been so long. It wasn’t as scary as I remembered, nor as difficult to do.

I was gently eased into prayer, and I was reminded of the Puritan injunction to ‘pray until you pray‘, which I first read about in Don Carson’s terrific book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. I’ve found this to be wise advice. Prayer takes work and it takes time to find the focus required. So beginning my prayer time using written prayers I don’t have to think about too much helps me to start praying. And once I start praying, finding my own words to keep praying seems easier.

PrayerMate got a shiny new update just a few days ago, making it even better to use and prettier to look at. One of the lovely teenagers from my dorm at our summer holiday venture bounced up to me on Saturday to tell me that she’d downloaded the app. And she’d even used it a bit too. So if a distracted 13 year old can use it, so can I. And maybe you too? Do the Next Thing – Do It with Prayer.

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As I’ve grown older and more distracted in my thinking, I find that written prayers are increasingly important in helping my devotional life. In his book A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Don Carson cites a Puritan saying:

Pray until you pray.

And written prayers help you to start praying, even when you can’t find the words to pray. Sometimes I think that being an Anglican, with all the written liturgy available to me, is a bit of a bonus really. Having said that, my favourite book of prayers is not an authorised Anglican one, although it was written by a canon of St Alban’s Cathedral. The Valley of Vision is a collection of prayers that were put together from a selection of Puritan writings. They are rich and deep and help me to start my prayers with a good focus on the Lord. On New Year’s Day I was reading the prayer for Wednesday morning, and was struck by some lines which applied very directly to my resolutions and plans for 2014:

…Grant us always to know that to walk with Jesus

makes other interests a shadow and a dream.

Keep us from intermittent attention to eternal things;

Save us from the delusion of those

who fail to go far in religion,

who are concerned but not converted,

who have another heart but not a new one,

who have light, zeal, confidence, but not Christ.

Let us judge our Christianity,

not only by our dependence upon Jesus,

but by our love to him,

our conformity to him,

our knowledge of him…

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