How to pray?

Today’s Bible readings are: Psalm 40; Isaiah 38.1–8, 21-22; Matthew 16.13–28.

The impulse toward self-preservation is no bad thing. It plays its part in the prayer of Psalm 40 and of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38. God answers Hezekiah’s pray and, we presume, hears the Psalmist’s too. For Peter, in Matthew 16, however, it is different. He wants the life of his friend and Lord to be  spared, so he cries out in protest at Jesus’ passion prediction, and for this he is rebuked. ‘Get behind me, Satan’ says Jesus. Peter becomes a tempter, a Satan, to Jesus by imploring Jesus to avoid the cross.

Prayer is difficult. Naturally, we pray for the preservation of our loved ones, for the success of our projects and for our own good health. Often these prayers make a difference (Hezekiah’s seems to change God’s mind!) Yet what really matters in prayer is not that we get what we want but that we perceive what God is doing and embrace it. This kind of praying moves beyond mere self-preservation to a kind of participation in the unfolding will of God. This kind of praying moves us beyond ourselves and our own little worlds to the world at large. There we discover a God who cares about poverty, global-warming, ecology and politics. We discover a God who cares about the plight of the planet and its people and we hear God’s call to follow Jesus, be the church, and live so as to make a difference.

Your name be hallowed, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Amen.

One Response

  1. Prayer certainly is difficult. I’ve never been terribly good at having regular ‘quiet times’ and consequently most of my prayers are hurried affairs whilst doing something else, although praying whilst walking to places often works well for me. My problem with prayer is the remembering to listen for an answer bit!

    Poor Peter, one minute praised, next minute rebuked!
    Firstly told ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ followed by ‘You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things’. This passage always raises lots of questions for me as my Catholic background placed a lot of emphasis on this passage with regard to Peter as the head of the church and on Papal Infallibility etc. Papal Infallibility is often misunderstood and often mis-taught even in the Catholic Church but I’m afraid I personally still can’t go with it. This is probably not the place for a long debate on this but I wonder if it will attract any further comments?

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