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Joy of Prayer – St. Nick’s News Jan. 18, 2022

Full St. Nick’s News for January 18, 2022

Dear Friends,

In the book, The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines, by Nathan Foster, he shares his experiences with spiritual disciplines. His father, Richard Foster, brought spiritual disciplines to the forefront of many Christians and has published many influential books on the subject. Nathan, writes in an approachable manner and is honest about where he finds struggle and where he finds joy with spiritual disciplines such as prayer, worship, study, to name a few.
In his chapter on prayer, he writes about a conversation with a friend, revealing how he often feels overwhelmed at the state of the world around him. He writes, “I remember one day telling Bill about how I often saw deep hurt and pain in people’s eyes. Sometimes in crowded places the worn faces filled with loss and heartache were overwhelming.” His friend replies, “Nate, God shows you that so you can pray for them,” and in turn Nate shares (what I assume many of us feel) “Bill, I can’t pray for everyone. I’d be praying all the time.” And his friend Bill wisely answers, “Exactly. You don’t need to say anything…just lift your hand up. You take the hurt you see, and you lift it up to God…Just give it to him. He can hold it.” What a beautiful image – lifting your hand up to God when you see the pain and the hurt in the people around you…

I imagine that is what we are doing when we place our prayers on the Prayer Wall at St. Nicholas. We are lifting them up to God and trusting that God is indeed holding our prayers. We also place these prayers on the wall so we can pray for one another. The prayers on the wall enter my daily prayers along with the prayer requests you text, email, or share from our website. Your prayers are entered into my prayer journal, and I offer them up to God.

As Christians, as Episcopalians, we are a praying community. We have a saying that our “Praying Shapes our Believing” meaning our worship shapes us, our daily prayers shape us, our reading of meditations and reflections shape us, and our time praying together in small groups and with friends shapes us. I believe prayer is initiated by God to us and that it is, at its heart relational. We are created in such a way, that gathering for prayer is important to our emotional, physical, and spiritual health. We will have some new opportunities to experience prayer together in the church season of Lent – which begins on March 2nd. We also have our prayer wall where you can place a note card up with a prayer request for a loved one, the world, or our church. You can also add your thanksgivings to the wall too.

There are tons of prayers in the Book of Common Prayer for your use (corporate prayer services and personal prayers to use) and we have some prayer books in our lending library, too. God is calling us into prayer. These prayers are seen in traditional and creative ways in our life together. Our prayers are witnessed in the art we create, the sighs we make, the songs we sing, the familiar prayers we recite, the walks we take, the dance parties in our living rooms, in the silent moments and in our laughter.

I guess you could say we are praying without ceasing and so I will end with this reminder from the Common English Bible’s translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 –
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil. Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

God’s Peace, Love, and Blessings,