Tom Writes..

Tom Writes...June 2019

Last month, Rob wrote about the ten day period between Ascension and Pentecost (May 30th – June 9th) when we are bidden to pray, in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

In particular, we are asked to pray by name for God’s blessing in the lives of 5 people we care about – that they may know more of God in their lives.

That period is now upon us, and in church there are opportunities and reminders for us to pray. Even so, remembering to pray, when we don’t have much of a practical habit, can be a really hard thing to do.

So I was delighted when Matt Long, one of the team at the new monastic Community in Leicester came to speak to local church reps at a recent Deanery Synod.

The Community of the Tree of Life offers young adults the challenge of setting aside a year to live a life of prayer and service, and the first two ‘novices’ have recently begun their time.

Matt spoke of the need to punctuate the course of a day with prayer. Punctuation gives the sense to the series of words on this page. Without punctuation it could be quite hard to see the meaning in what I am writing, In the same way, punctuation points during the day serve to give meaning and shape to how we spend our time.

Punctuation points are brief moments in the day when we choose to remember God and commit our times to him. Ideally they are moments we encounter naturally, and we just develop the habit of praying in those times.

So, most of us begin and end the day with two minutes looking into the mirror while we brush our teeth. Praying in those times adds up to nearly half an hour of prayer over the course of a week … but more than that, these are strategic times at the start and finish of a day.

We can add other such times by choice – for example, using the time while the kettle is boiling, or while we are stuck at traffic lights, or waiting at the bus stop. In this way the cumulative time spent praying truly adds up – but of even greater significance is that we are punctuating the flow of each day with a nod to God at regular intervals. In this way the whole day becomes God orientated.

It put me in mind of a book well known for its title, if not for its content. ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ is a compilation of letters and maxims from a 17th century French monk named Brother Lawrence. Whether in the kitchen or in the sandal shop, or wherever he found himself, Lawrence tried to do the smallest task mindful of God and as service to Him. Even if you never read the book, the title is a thought-provoking one. Can we grow to be conscious hour by hour of the God who loves us and never forsakes us – and so live our lives in a manner that honours him?

By regularly conversing with Him during the day, we will be on the way to developing this habit. It’s a habit we can begin during this year’s 10 day prayer window ‘Thy Kingdom come’ – or at any subsequent time in the future. Let’s get punctuating!