Posted in Church, tagged A Call to Spiritual Reformation, app, Apple, Church of England, collect, distraction, Do the next thing, Don Carson, DTNT, focus, Googleplay, Lord's Prayer, pray until you pray, prayer, PrayerMate, psalm on 31 January, 2016|
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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.
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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Posted in Faith, Family, Kids, tagged Children, devotions, Five finger prayer, Kids, Lord's Prayer, Our Father, prayer, Richard Coekin on 19 November, 2009|
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Last weekend I met up with some old friends. I see this group of Christian girls twice a year, as we’ve done for more than 15 years. We pray for one another through the year and meet for encouragement, to study the bible and eat fabulous food.
This Saturday we’d agreed to read Richard Coekin’s new book ‘Our Father – Enjoying God in Prayer’. What a tonic.
Richard Coekin describes himself in this book as an activist who struggles to pray. I could relate to this very well. I’m a massive extrovert who finds the discipline of prayer a daily battle. But Coekin’s book doesn’t send the activist on a guilt trip. As we discussed it on Saturday, we agreed that we’d not felt beaten over the head about our lack of prayer, but that prayer was in fact possible. And not just in special ‘quiet times’ but throughout the day. We each felt that we could pray more – that it wasn’t as hard as we thought.
One helpful feature of the book is a rather cheesy story at the end of each chapter. The stories fit together as a whole, telling a tale of the prayer lives of different characters. I particularly liked the way one girl’s prayers were written out including lots of ‘ers’. My prayers are far from coherent, so this seemed very realistic.
The book unpacks each of the sections of the Lord’s Prayer and just helps you to think how you could pray that more thoroughly. Since this weekend I’ve been praying this way not only myself, but also with the kids (who are 8, 6 and 4) after their bible time.
With the kids I’ve offered options, so that they feel like they have some choice in the way they pray. The current options are the Lord’s Prayer (unpacked for the big two, but straight for the Engineer) or the five finger prayer. If you’ve not heard of it, the five finger prayer is where we pray
- Thumb – for those closest to us (family, friends)
- Forefinger – for those who point us to Christ (church leaders, Sunday school teachers)
- Middle finger – for those in authority (government, teachers)
- Ring finger – for those who are weak (the ill and sad)
- Little finger – little me
Actually, we’ve slightly adapted this five finger prayer to pray about the Lord, who’s first, as well as those close to us, as we pray the thumb prayer.
This has been a good week for prayer in the Vicarage. How do you pray with your kids?
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