As a rule I won’t be blogging on a Sunday, hence the absence of a blog for Day five.
“ Prayer is an unnatural activity”…For many years, even as senior pastor of a large church I knew more about prayer than I ever practised in my own life.”
Bill Hybels, “Too Busy Not to Pray”
It is important that you know that I am not a great pray-er. Prayer, as I was taught it in the church I grew up in, is something I’ve always struggled with. As I’ve got older I’ve relaxed a bit more about my inability to have a serious ministry of prayer. These days I often just chat with God as I go through my day, as things come up, and this seems to be OK.
Clearly the disciples arrived at a similar point in their relationship with Jesus. Thick as they could sometimes be they couldn’t help but notice that he seemed to be refreshed, envisioned and motivated by the times of prayer that he snatched with the Father in the middle of his very busy life. So one day, one of Jesus followers asked the inevitable question…
 … One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,“ Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. ‘ ”
Luke 11: 1-4 NIV
It seems likely, as John Pritchard suggests in “The Journey” that the disciples were aware that John the Baptist had taught his followers a sort of ‘team prayer’. So they ask Jesus to help them by providing something similar.
I think sometimes, particularly in non-conformist churches, we lose out on the sense of oneness with other believers through our neglect of the powerful simplicity of this ‘team prayer’…we should pray it more. Jesus teaches a lot of other things about prayer, both in story and by example.
Over the years a number of things have greatly helped my prayer life. Getting up early, while the house is still quiet is one of them (although that was hard with very young children). Going off to lonely, solitary places is another. Conversely, praying with other people is sometimes helpful. Methods developed in the church through the ages also help: from the Benedictines I learned Lectio Divina, praying with Scripture, and the Jesuits taught me the Daily Examen. As a member of the Northumbria Community I grew to love the stability of the words of the Daily Office. More recently I’ve discovered apps for my smartphone and web sites of prayers and devotions that really help.
Here are some books an resources that have helped me to spend time with God, talking and listening, in prayer. I’m sure you have favourites of your own.
There may be more recent editions of some of these books; I’ve given you details of copies I own.
Robert Benson, “In Constant Prayer”, Thomas Nelson 2008
Daniel Wolpert, “Creating a Life with God” Upper Room Books 2003
Tony Jones, “The Sacred Way”, Zondervan 2005
Bill Hybels, “Too Busy Not to Pray”, IVP 1988
Northumbria Community, “Celtic Daily Prayer”, now in two volumes, Harper Collins 2015
Mark E Thibodeaux SJ, “Reimagining the Ignatian Examen”, Loyola Press 2015
James Martin SJ, “The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything”, Harper One 2012
Pete Greig, “God on Mute”, Survivor 2007
My favourite prayer app, which just gets better and better, is PrayerMate, which continues to be offered free of charge by Geero.net
All of these resources are no substitute for actually spending time with God!