On Sunday mornings, during the Eucharist, we pray a short prayer from The Book of Common Prayer known as the Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We don’t see ourselves as perfectly loving God, our neighbors, or even ourselves, but the time we set aside to begin each week to pray together is part of a larger practice of prayer. We come together to offer ourselves in Adoration for God’s presence in creation (which looks like awe, helping us keep perspective: God = so incredibly huge, me = not so much); in Thanksgiving for another day and the gifts that have been be and the needs of the hungry, sick, poor, hungry, those in prison, and the pain of the world; Confession for the times and places where we’ve fallen short and need to own up to our faults to facilitate our improvement; and Petition for our own needs. This can be as simple as Anne Lamott’s idea in her book, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.
Margaret Guenther writes: “True prayer, whatever outward form it might take, is first and foremost a condition of loving attentiveness to God in which we find ourselves open and receptive to who we are in our deepest selves” (from The Practice of Prayer). And as Ann and Barry Ulanov say in their book Primary Speech, “In prayer we say who in fact we are – not who we should be, nor who we wish we were, but who we are.”
St. John’s has a Prayer Chain – those who keep prayers going when so many of us get distracted, keeping us all connected to one another through a belief in prayer as that connection. More than just knowing what’s going on with the people we care about, prayer is an active response to the life of the community. If you’d like to be a part of the prayer chain or if you’d like to have our prayer chain pray for you, contact our Pastoral Care team at stjohnspastoral at aol.com.
There are so many ways to pray, and things to pray about. Here’s what the Right Reverend Steven Charleston, retired bishop of Alaska, has to say:
“It is harder than it looks, this idea of living a spiritual life. It is one thing to attend a worship service once a week, it is another to try to be spiritually aware on a daily basis. That means having something you pray for, something you study, and something you do every day. Setting aside a small amount of time for prayer at the same time each day is helpful. Then having something to study and reflect on keeps faith growing. And finally, being intentional about applying what you believe to what you do at least once a day makes faith come alive. If you want to change your life, these three small steps will take you a long way toward that goal.”
In addition to Sunday Eucharist at 8:00 am and 10:00 am St. John’s offers Centering Prayer every Wednesday at 5:45 pm, preceded by 30 minutes of contemplative music.
Here are some links to help you deepen your prayer life: