By Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen
I’ve really enjoyed leading a group at St Mary’s Ashford Town Centre through this year’s Lent Course. I can hardly believe we’ve got just one week to go!
The Lectio course developed by Pete Grieg brings together ancient Christian traditions with contemporary spirituality in a highly engaging way. But when all is said and done, I wonder if the greatest benefit of the course has simply been that it’s got us talking about prayer. That’s something that we just don’t do very often – even religious ‘professionals’ like me. And yet prayer is at the heart of the life of faith. Prayer is the heartbeat of the church.
That’s why we wanted one of our parish objectives for the year to be ‘Foster the life of prayer within our parish’, relating to the first of the three key elements in our vision statement – centred on Jesus, serving the community, sharing our faith. We know we have some serious challenges to face in our churches. And we know that in order to face them as churches, as part of the church of God, and not just as human institutions, we need to be praying, for our town and all who live and work here, for our church communities, and for ourselves. Without prayer, we can’t be centred on Jesus.
The Lectio course highlights the ancient practice of ‘lectio divina’, reading scripture so that it profoundly shapes our conversation with God, how we listen to him and how we speak to him. You might get really excited about that, or you might decide it’s not for you. But if we’re serious about meeting God through prayer and bible reading, we’re probably going to need more than 60–75 minutes once a week on a Sunday morning. We’re going to need something like what was traditionally called a rule of life, now sometimes termed a rhythm of life. A pattern for weaving into our daily lives, Monday to Saturday, times when we put that conversation with God at the centre of our attention.
The pattern doesn’t have to be grand, and it doesn’t have to be strict. Better to take some small steps and start walking than try to run and fall on your face. Do you have a rhythm of life that makes space for listening to God and talking to God, through prayer and bible reading, day by day? Do you ever talk to anyone else about it?