Last Sunday it was my turn to lead the prayers at the 10.15 service. We have the readings in advance so that we can reflect on these passages of scripture. They, in turn, can inform our prayers. It’s good to have a jumping off point.
I tend to favour fairly short prayers and not to set the scene and list the people and places we are praying for. I always fear that I will leave someone or something out. But probably that doesn’t matter as God probably already knows people and places and difficulties and dilemmas before we even ask.
So is prayer about asking and telling? Is God a bit like a dispensing machine and we put in a request and out comes the answer? I started to reflect on these questions as I prepared my prayers. Perhaps because two of the scripture readings I found a bit tricky to shape my prayers around.
I remembered my years in Catholic Ireland and how they would tell me to pray to St. Anthony when I lost my keys, or some other saint if I wanted success in another sphere. So I could pray to a saint, or to the Virgin Mary, or to Jesus, as well as to God – perhaps depending upon what I wanted.
But was this how I saw prayer? I decided that prayer for me is something to do with ‘connection’, connection with myself, connection with other people, connection with God. And that would require ‘attention’, and attention is the greatest gift I can give – to myself, to others and to God.