True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that - it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
HOW WE PRAY
At St. Luke we have a variety of ways for you to join in prayer. We take time every Sunday to lift up members and others in our prayers. During the week, seven members of St. Luke are contacted by the pastor asking for prayer requests. They and their requests are then remembered every day that week by the pastor and members. This is done on an on-going basis so that every congregational member and their requests are personally remembered in prayer. We also take time to introduce various ways of praying in confirmation, as well as actually trying them out. Some of our members make prayer shawls, praying for the person who will use it as they make the shawl. The shawls are then given to a person who is literally wrapped up in prayer.
RESOURCES FOR PRAYER
The ELCA website has a variety of prayer resources. There are many ways to pray. One way is found in a delightful book called The Way of a Pilgrim by R.M. French. It is the story of a Russian pilgrim who hears Paul’s exhortation to “pray ceaselessly” – 2 Thessalonians 5:17. The pilgrim can’t imagine how it is possible to pray without ceasing, and so begins his journey which leads him to the Jesus Prayer. To find out more about this way of praying visit: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7104.
Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina are both centuries old ways of praying. A beautiful book introducing Centering Prayer is: Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer by M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and Thomas E. Clarke. A video on Centering Prayer by Father Thomas Keating can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcc5_R9415Q.
A special place created for the purpose of nurturing solitary prayer is Pacem in Terris where you can rent a single-room cabin set off in the woods. It is a beautiful place located about 20 miles north of Anoka on highway 47. For more information use the link:http://www.paceminterris.org/.
A person need not be seated quietly to pray. If you like to move and be active, check out “Stretch and Pray” by Bishop Murray Finck. There is both a DVD and a book about this way of stretching and exercising while meditating. For more information, enter “Stretch and Pray” into a search engine. The book and DVD can be found at the Luther Seminary bookstore, a wonderful place to purchase books, most for a 25% discount! Luther Seminary bookstore is open to everyone. Directions to Luther Seminary can be found at:http://www.luthersem.edu/campus/driving_directions.aspx.
Another active way of praying is by using a labyrinth. Would you like to find a labyrinth? Use the labyrinth locator website to find the one nearest you. Check it out at: http://labyrinthlocator.com/.
A STORY FOR THOUGHT...
Are you still unsure of how to pray? There is a story of a pastor who was asked by a young woman to visit her father who was dying. The pastor called on the man and found him lying in bed. There was a chair right next to the bed so the pastor asked the man if someone had just been there visiting. The man sheepishly said, “No, but if you promise not to tell my daughter, I will tell you about the chair.” The pastor readily agreed. The man then said, “For many years I tried to find a way to pray, but nothing seemed to work for me. Finally a friend told me that praying is just like having a conversation with God. He told me to set a chair in front of me, pretend Jesus is sitting in it and simply talk. I tried it and it works for me! That is why this chair is setting here, so I can pray to Jesus. I imagine him sitting right there next to my bed. Please do not tell my daughter. She will think I have gone off the deep end.” The pastor assured the man he would not tell the daughter. They talked a while more, prayed together and then the pastor left. Some days later the pastor received a phone call from the daughter telling him that her father had passed away peacefully. She said, “I said goodbye to him in the morning. He was in great spirits and even told me one of his corny jokes. When I came home later that day, he had died and he looked very peaceful. There was just one strange thing. Dad died with his head lying on the chair next to his bed.”