I love coming into a new year. I love that feeling that everything gets to be reset and we get to start anew. It’s strange because it’s only going from one day to the next, as any other time, but somehow it feels bigger than that…it marks a time of going from the old and into the new. Which is good to do every once in a while I reckon.
I’m never very good at new years resolutions though – there is something in me that doesn’t want to do things that I’m told to do (probably something I should sort out at some point) and whenever I set resolutions I feel like I’m caged in. Instead, I make a little list of things that I want to change. Yes, yes, I know that’s exactly the same, but mental games help, ok.
So, one of the things I want to get loads better at this year is praying. I’ll be honest – I’m not very good at it. My prayer life is very ad-hoc, off the cuff and generally consists of things I want God to do for me;
“God please help me to_______________; God I know that maybe this sounds cheeky, but I’d really like a __________, any chance? God please bless so-and-so as they need ________” Then fill in the blanks.
I wonder if that sounds familiar?
So I’ve decided (some might say resolved, not me though) to build into life a rhythm of prayer. There are four areas that I’m aiming for change…Listening, intimacy, courage and community. I know, I know, it should spell something out, like TSP (thank you, sorry, please) or ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) – but I’m not that skilled.
Anyway, the four things…
I want to close my mouth and open my ears. I want to give God the space to speak to me, to allow my prayer life to be a conversation rather than my verbal splurge.
Theresa of Avila said this:
“Vocal prayer . . . must be accompanied by reflection.
A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer—–however much the lips may move.”
Rather than a duty than needs to be done, or an absent minded list, I want prayer to be a central part of relationship of God. More than that, I NEED it to be a central part of relationship with God. Talking to the one you love is vital to intimacy…telling them everything that is in your heart, both feelings and fear, hope and hates, loves and lies, breeds intimacy.
“Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends;
it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” Theresa of Avila
I want to find the time to be alone with the one I know loves me.
I want to ask great things of God. I want to be courageous when I pray and ask that God do great things in front of my eyes. I want to pray for healing and life-change, I want to pray for impossible situations, I want to pray big prayers. It’s only then that there will be big answers.
“You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” Theresa of Avila
I want to pray with people. Whilst my relationship with God is my responsibility, He calls us to do things together, as a body of people. That includes our prayer lives. This will both build community and strengthen that which already exists.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst” Matt 18:19
When we join together and ask for things, Jesus tells us it will be done. But, also, as we gather to seek and pray, Jesus will move among us. Community leads us to intimacy.
So there you have it, one of many hopes for this year.
What are yours?
Soul Action Project Manager