Notes on our discussion about Prayer
PCN Birmingham 1st August 2016
Topic – Prayer
Introduced by Richard Tetlow
The theme of Prayer and God is related to truth which involves both inner and outer truths.
Outer relates to relationships with other people, is related to role (as retired priest), fosters other humans and includes visiting people and has included a recent hospital visit to administer communion.
Inner, responding to people dying in Alepo or Brexit cannot pray to make it better, this breeds disillusionment. Abstract awareness of self, quotation from Hamlet. Values of life and beauty, truth including lies – gear into this / connect. Helpful and honest to each other, connecting with vivacity of life is good; Where has this come from? Why? Criteria for judgement. Awareness of what is happening in the streets and in each other. Goodness is a quality of our existence and can recognise this as separate but linked to me. These links are prayer, God is about this too/within our existence, beautiful and loving.
Awareness of mystery praying with and to it (God). God is always with us, prayer is the link to God. Walk through the knots we get into, discuss with others and those of other faiths, this is an offering to others.
Thoughts /responses from others
Prayer involves reflection and change, what can I do not what I can say. Meditation process. Appreciation. Thinking of others. Adoration through self reflection.
Prayer in Indian sub continent would be recognised as devotion. In Islam God consciousness 5 peak times a day and in week. Seeing things in a wider context that includes other faiths.
Prayer is an opportunity to dispose of self so open to inner light. Christian meditation using Maranatha enables me to put all the me focussed concerns to one side and to be open. Reduces concerns/ become more understanding of others, represents change and becoming opened up.
No longer sure what prayer is. It can become dangerous when people don’t get “answers”. Some conversations with people seeking help (confession/priest). In the context of a niece with cancer am sent prayer requests. Prayer represents a conversation with those who are precious to me or have hurt me. God is not always in it.
Prayer is real when it is inclusive can be a lament. Want community support for activity. Community practice is a hopeful reality.
Prayer is thinking about opportunities for action. Engagement in conversation, need others to keep away from fanaticism. Public thought, community activity, in church services public thoughts and concerns. Nothing supernatural.
No value in a definition of prayer. Sense of feeling, a space for natural and supernatural to come together. State of personal, unique and non prescribed, spoken or unspoken. Prayer is a banal word. Praying is listening to this conversation. It is a gift in being to use and experience, answers, stillness, innovation and talking about mistakes. Beautiful conversations unrestricted, selfish and non prescribed.
Prayers of intercession are not a shopping list. Prayer is any practice that helps us live out a meaningful life both alone or in company. We should give ourselves credit for the creativity of our brains.
Quotation from 1487
’ ... any practice which helps us to live out our understanding of the meaning of life.’
In 1487, Pico della Mirandola imagined the Creator saying to Adam something like this: ‘I created you to be neither heavenly nor earthly that you might be free to shape and master yourself. You may descend to be lower than the beasts or you may rise as gods. Your growth and development depend on your own free will. You have in you the germs of a universal life.’
Quotation from Gretta Vosper
‘Our experience convinces us to hold up those values that we once saw as characteristic of a divine being and to live them out, to live god, through our spirits, throughout our own lives. To do so is to pray.’
Intercessory prayer makes people conscious of what they want and brings some things and people to our attention. Prayer is a process of creating a space and giving attention. Process of examination of consciousness: Relaxation; Review of the day focussing on the positives and what we are not so happy with/ what to do about it; What does this mean, change; What next? Prayer nourishes me and enables action.
Prayer is a deepening and opening of something inside me. It is not about
intervention. It is about holding needs in the heart. Awareness and focus beyond today. Public prayer in church, it may be helpful to say “prayers of concern and commitment” with prompts to silent prayer, “your prayers not mine”. Things on my heart with a response. Bidding suggested “Ground of our being, God” or “God who is love”.
Prayer by Richard Hollaway from “A World of Prayer” was read.
Summary, Prayer can include
- Self awareness
- General awareness, attention
- Thinking about things
- Discipline of silence
- Change and giving the opportunity to change
- Conversation and communication
- Private and public thought
- No value in a definition of prayer
- Answers stillness elevation
- Totally selfish and unprescribed
- Any practice which helps us to live out our understanding of life
- Examination of consciousness (Ignatius)
- Listen to self and outside
- A deepening and opening of something inside me
- An awareness of something beyond me