Without doubt, the prayer that Christians know the best is what we call the Lord’s Prayer. It appears twice in Scripture, with slight differences, in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. This article uses the NRSV translation of the Matthew version. The Prayer is contained within the Sermon on the Mount, and in the lead-in to it, Jesus says, “Pray then this way”. What follows outlines Jesus’ approach to prayer – that is how to pray, not necessarily what we should pray for. The central themes Jesus articulates here are threefold: Praise, Petitions, and Thanksgiving. It focuses succinctly on two agendas – God’s and ours – and it places priority on the Kingdom message and doing God’s will. Perhaps during Lent, we can use the Lord’s Prayer to broaden how we pray, not just what we pray for.
Continue reading “Praying The Lord’s Prayer During Lent and Beyond”
Some time ago, in a place I can no longer recall, I came across a helpful reflection on Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew that applied the words of Jesus to guide us in understanding the nature of prayer.
Continue reading “Matthew’s Gospel on Prayer”
In a previous Prayer Matters article, I mentioned the value of being connected to God by being part of a Prayer Group This is no less important now in these COVID times of lockdowns, physical distancing, and restrictions on meeting with others. Despite our wishes that the Pandemic would go away, it looks like it will be some time before we can meet together safely for prayer in small or large groups as we have in the past. As we go forward, we need to adapt and develop new ways to stay connected with each other and God in prayer.
Continue reading “Praying together in Pandemic Times”
By Paul Dumbrille
Many people find it useful to keep diaries and chronicles to record their experiences and thoughts, often on a regular basis. A Prayer Journal is not a diary but is a special way to use the written word to enrich one’s relationship with God. Prayer Journaling creates a breathing space in our daily journey with God. It is more than a chronicle of events. Rather, it is a place to record flashes of insight and treasured moments of encounters with God. It is also an opportunity to admit the faults and mistakes that we find so difficult to admit elsewhere. The spiritual discipline of journaling moves beyond and behind mere descriptions of life events, providing a place to ponder the pattern our lives are weaving. If a Prayer Journal answers only one question, it is. “What is God doing in my life?” Absolute honesty is possible. Our private Prayer Journal is a place to pour out our anguish, think the unthinkable, and presume to know what’s best. In the safe haven of being able to make perhaps some outlandish statements, we stumble across our true motives, feelings and desires, and become more intimate with the Divine Presence.
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By Paul Dumbrille
We often hear about a “vigil” being held outside a home or at a specific location when a tragedy strikes, such as when multiple people are killed from a tragic accident or crime. Dictionaries define a vigil as a period of keeping awake and watchful, especially during a time that is often spent asleep. However, when an event is announced as a Christian “Prayer Vigil”, we might wonder what it is; why it is being carried out; where one might be held; and how long it last.
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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.
Continue reading “The Priority of Prayer”
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.
Continue reading “What is in a Name”
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.
Continue reading “Is God Always There?”
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”
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.
Continue reading “Inventory”