Talking about “Prayer”

Exeter Cathedral is currently running a series of “First Thursday” evenings. Each month there’s a talk and discussion on a scriptural, theological, or spiritual topic. This evening, I’ve been asked to talk about Prayer, I suppose because I have a practice of contemplative prayer and am about to go and live alongside a monastic community. Trouble is, how do I express the inexpressible? Here is roughly what I want to say.

So much has been written about prayer, and spoken about prayer, that it has become this Big Scary Thing that makes people feel inadequate, afraid, helpless, and unsure where to begin.

Whereas it can be as simple as flopping into an easy chair and resting in God’s presence.

It’s a relationship.

Yes, there are different ways of experiencing God and different ways of praying that suit different people at different times.

No, you don’t have to do what other people tell you to. But it’s good to read and ask around for ideas. If it helps them, it might be worth trying it out to see if it helps you. If it does help, stick with it for a while. If it really doesn’t, try something else.

It’s much better to start small with manageable bits of time that you can keep going with, than to be too ambitious and become resentful or fail and beat yourself up.

You don’t have to speak. Listening is good. So is saying thank you, or WOW! Being angry is fine; God can take it. Finding God in another person is beautiful. And as I say, flopping and resting is always an option.

The important thing is to begin.