I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer of late.
At church we’re three weeks into a series on the Lord’s Prayer, which I’m really enjoying. It’s a bit of a change of pace from the usual look through a book – before the summer we were studying Exodus, and some weeks the passage for the sermon would be a couple of chapters, and yesterday the passage was four words: “Hallowed be your name”. It’s pretty different, but pretty great too.
A week and bit ago at team days we spent a good chunk of time praying for the CUs in our region, and the things that are coming up over the next weeks. Peter shared a story of some folks who he met at the IFES World Assembly, who shared wonderful stories of thousands of students coming to Christ over the last year. When he asked them why they thought that had happened, they shared that they believe it was because the CU students in their country have just been completely dedicated to praying for their friends – would we see similar scenes in the CUs here if we were as committed to prayer?
This morning I went along to the CU prayer meeting, a meeting that will be happening every day during Freshers’ week. The CU usually has over 100 members, but there were only 15 people there this morning. Why? When I was a student the CU was about 200 people, but the weekly prayer meeting was still only about 15 people. What’s going on?
I think one of the things I love most about CU mission/events weeks is the way that students get excited about praying together over the week. Last year at Newcastle there were about 20 people praying on the first day, and about 70 by the last day, but how amazing would it be if 70 people came to every prayer meeting? And why don’t they at the moment?
The theory that my lovely Relay worker, Jess, has put forward is that calling the prayer meeting ‘Early Morning Prayer’ is where we’re going wrong. She thinks that the use of the word ‘early’ is psychologically disturbing for students, and that’s why they’re not coming.
But then, if they manage at 8 o’clock during mission week, what’s the problem for the rest of the year?
My assumption is that they probably don’t really think that prayer is that important, and the reason that I think that, is that I think that’s basically my problem too.
Intellectually I know that prayer is good, but I often find it hard to get excited about, and tend to assume that my time would be better spent ‘doing stuff’.
I am an idiot.
There have been a couple of things that have made me re-think all of that recently. Not exactly new things, but good reminders.
Firstly, when I don’t pray I’m basically defaulting to the age-old sin of thinking that insignificant little me can do a better job than the LORD Almighty, the creator of the universe. I’ve found it helpful to be reminded how deeply stupid that is.
Secondly, prayer is such a great privilege. We get to come to the LORD Almighty, the creator of the universe, and call him Father. How amazing is that?
I was struck by this especially when I was on my top-secret trip over the summer. Because of where we were we had to be a wee bit more covert about praying, so we divided the team up into pairs, and when we wanted to pray we would go for a walk and ‘chat to Dad’. Walking around a park, with your eyes open (natch.), talking to Dad and asking that he might help our new friends come to know our big brother, was a bit weird at first, but the simple fact of using more normal language changed the way I felt about prayer – it reminded me that prayer is just talking to Dad. That easy, that familiar, that intimate, that wonderful.
What a joy!
I’ve been won over (again) by the fact that prayer is vital and wonderful, and one of my big prayers over the next year is going to be that we might see CU students get really excited about praying for their friends and classmates and neighbours.
Our Father in heaven delights to give good gifts to those who ask – I think I just need to do a bit more asking!
In summary: pondering the big things of the universe on a Monday morning.