The Priority of Prayer

By Paul Dumbrille.

Christians are called to do their best to bring God into their daily lives. Prayer, in its many forms, is the way we establish and maintain a connection with God. If we are to be the best we can be, and follow Jesus, we need to make prayer a priority in our lives. Personal prayer is central, but prayer in our family, church congregation, Diocese and community is also important. This is not done without making prayer a priority in all of these settings.
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What is in a Name

By Paul Dumbrille

Names are important. When we meet someone for the first time, the first question we usually ask is what that person’s name is. To start a relationship, we want to find out the name of the one we are communicating with. Once we learn the name of another person, we associate that name with the circumstance(s) in which we met them; how long we’ve known them, and what our relationship is with them. Sometimes we give them nickname. In my case, my last name has invited a variety of nicknames, usually starting with “Dumb”. Sometimes we add a modifier to the name or nickname (e.g. “Crazy Canucks”). One of the first things we do when we acquire a pet, is to give it a name. Names are important. In the English-speaking world, we most often use the name “God” when referring to, and addressing, the Divine Presence (a name in itself), and we often add a modifier such as “Loving” and “Gracious” to the name of God, to express what we feel are the characteristics of the God we know. The words we use cannot adequately describe the mystery of the Divine, even though we try. In connecting with God, it is important to consider the name(s) we use in prayer. The word(s) we use in addressing God often reveal what our image of God is, what we consider God’s character is, and/or our feelings about God at particular times.
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Is God Always There?

By Paul Dumbrille

If your experience of prayer is anything like mine, at times you wonder if God is really there when you pray. Sometimes we have a deep sense of God’s presence, and sometimes we have no sense of the Divine reality. We can’t imagine that God exists. Sometimes we have deep feelings about God’s goodness and love, and sometimes we feel only boredom and distraction. Sometimes our eyes become teary, and sometimes they wander to our wristwatch to see how much more time we still need to spend in prayer. Sometimes we would like to stay in our place of prayer forever, and sometimes we can hardly wait to look at our smartphone. Prayer has a huge ebb and flow.
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Prayer and Place

By Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter where we pray? Yes and no. If one trusts that God is in everything and everything is in God, then God is available to us in prayer at any time and in any place. The important thing is not where we pray, but that we pray, and in what spirit it is done. However, my experience, and the experience of many others over time, is that physical place makes a difference. The outer place impacts our ability to tap into our inner space, where we can more easily access the Divine Presence. In seeking a meaningful relationship with God through prayer, it can be helpful to ask ourselves some questions related to space and place. Where are we most comfortable in prayer? What does our prayer space look like? We may find that the place or the space we normally use for prayer is no longer working for us. Maybe there are distractions within our spaces and places of prayer that did not initially exist. In past eras when crime inside churches was rare, the church sanctuaries were open most, if not all, of the time, ready for anyone with spiritual needs to come in and pray in peace. Sadly, the fears, expense, staffing and effort to keep churches always open today is too much for most congregations. But then, where can we pray? Anywhere, but often our lives and our world get in the way. There is still a need for a place to go, set aside for prayer, set up to help us in the act of praying. Continue reading “Prayer and Place”

Inventory

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it Matter if We “Take Stock” of our Prayer Life?

I think it does. Regardless of the way we pray, or how often we pray, God does not want our relationship with Him to stay the same. He desires us to come closer to Him and to grow in our love for Him, for others, and for ourselves. It is therefore appropriate that from time to time we “take stock” of how we are communicating with God, and how our relationship is developing. This article will ask you to pose a number of questions to yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. The results are intended to provide food for thought and in the hope that you will be spurred to take stock, and make changes if they are necessary to improve your relationship with God.
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Intercession Preparation

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I prepare ahead of time to lead Prayers of the People?

Yes, I believe it does. It matters that the person who leads the prayers has an understanding of the purpose of the prayers, their place in the liturgy and the role of the Intercessor.

In a previous article of Prayer Matters, I wrote that Intercession is a relationship in which we share our concerns with each other and with God. It is appropriate that we should hold before God those people and situations in need of prayer. The Intercessory prayers should focus on God’s reconciling, transforming, and healing love. The Prayers of the People are the prayers offered as a Christian community. The worshipping community’s prayers are an expression of our belief that people, and the circumstances in the world that affect the human family, can be touched and changed through Jesus Christ and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. The prayers are given shape both by our awareness of human need and the Gospel vision of God’s Kingdom.

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Intercessions

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I pray for others?

Yes. I believe that it does. It matters not only in our Anglican worship services where we traditionally include “Intercessions” or “Prayers of the People”, but also in our daily lives. Several years ago, a friend asked me: “Why do we pray every week for peace in the Middle East when history shows us that people have been fighting each other for thousands of years and the prayers for peace over the centuries have not made any difference?” How you would answer that question? The question caused me to think deeply about why we pray intercessory prayers for others.
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Reader Preparation

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I prepare ahead of time to read a Scripture Lesson

Yes. I believe that it does.

The scriptures are given a prominent role in Anglican liturgy. The church’s worship services are full of scriptural phrases and sentences. This prominence reflects the Anglican church’s emphasis through the centuries on the primacy of the scriptures. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching , for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NRSV). If we are to respect this prominent role, we should understand the role of the Reader, or “Lector”.
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Healing

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it Matter That We Pray for Healing?

It is natural and appropriates that we should want a person healed of whatever malady that afflicts them, and so we pray that they be cured. But what about the situation in which the medical prognosis is that of an incurable disease or affliction? Should we still pray for healing? Yes, I believe we should.
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Prayer Walking

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter if I am not “Still” when I pray?

I don’t think so.

When we think of prayer, most often we think of being still – standing, kneeling or sitting – while connecting with God. After all, doesn’t Scripture say: “Be still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10, [NRSV])? However, being still is not the only way we can pray. Some people do their best, and are most comfortable, praying while they are moving.
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