Lord, teach us to pray. Put the thoughts into our minds, the desires into our hearts, and the very words into our lips, if it be your will, that so all through it may be praying in the Spirit and not in the flesh. C. H. Surgeon
“…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” Ephesians 6:18.
Simple prayer is indispensable in the life of every Christian. Spiritual Prayer moves our prayer life from an effort of our own to a partnership of Divine Love. In order to make this jump to Spiritual Prayer, we must first embrace what St. Paul teaches us in his letter to the Romans, which like most things in our Christian walk, is about surrender. Giving God the time, the purity and sanctity of your being, to work in you. That involves, among other things, patience and trust. As Saint Paul urges us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Simple prayer is a response to the needs and concerns of our own lives. Our prayers are petitions and some praises, formed from our experiences and aimed at what we faithfully believe God desires. Through simple prayer we receive the consolation of the Holy Spirit and the assurance of God’s presence and fidelity.
Spiritual Prayer, or Prayer in the Spirit, evolves from the practice of relinquishment to God’s will during times of simple prayer, it is approaching the throne of grace in humble and devout intercession and supplication entirely on God’s terms, not ours. As you might imagine, submitting ourselves to God is harder than it seems, but easier than we think.
Prayer practice is the key to relinquishment. Habit is formed in doing and our habit of simple prayer is bolstered by the Holy Spirit’s presence and blessing. For now, simply starting a habit of prayer will be enough. Remember, 8:15 every morning is our Parish practice, but you can pick any time—just as long as you remain consistent. As Anglicans, we are blessed with several ready-made traditions, starting without very own Book of Common Prayer (BCP), and the lectionary I mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon. There is a very handy “office” of daily prayer at our fingertips, and I’ve known many to use it and benefit from the biblical core, the beautiful language, the universality of our common prayer traditions. There is also Forward Movement publications, offering a daily print or online prayer and devotional guide. Good stuff! Perhaps it’s not too late to add or improve on one other practice in quarantine—arguably the most important one of all!
As your practice evolves into habit your simple prayers are able to evolve into Divine Utterances. It all starts with the will to start, to give to God the time and attention God asks to work in your heart and mind. God is in your prayers with you and your habit of prayer will enable God to work in you that which is right and pleasing in His sight.
"God is (continually) working in you, (continually) giving you the desire to obey Him and (continually giving you) the power to do what pleases Him." Phillipians 2:13
Father Bill Burk†