4523 Six Forks Rd. Raleigh, NC 27609  919-787-7590

Prayer is willing communication with God

Greetings St. Timothy’s Church:

 

Let me ask you: what makes us Episcopalians?  Is it that we have an ‘episkopos’ (the Greek word for bishop)?  Are we simply the odd middle ground between disgruntled Roman Catholics and liturgically enthusiastic Baptists?  If you’d say you identify as Episcopal then I think this is an important question to consider: who am I as an Episcopalian? It is important for us to know personally and as a parish (that means both church and school) if we want to stand out as unique against the breadth of other Christian denominations and movements out there.

 

This tidings letter will not be a complete answer to that question – in fact, it will barely scratch the surface.  But one unique feature of our tradition is our use of the Book of Common Prayer {BCP}.  The former Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is known for saying the following: “Our principle invitation is not ‘Here is a list of theological propositions – can you sign at the bottom?’  Rather, our principle invitation [as Anglicans] is ‘Here is a book of worship, which is a mosaic of scripture intended to lift up the heart, develop the spirit, and unites heart and head.'”

 

The BCP has been, and hopefully always will be, a text that shapes the Episcopal way of life.  Not just in its memorable phrases, but even more importantly how it advocates the daily focus on prayer, Bible reading, and the sacraments.  These are part of what we call the ‘Daily Offices’ and they are daily for a reason!  I have little doubt some of you here at St. Timothy’s are already praying on a daily basis.  But if church statistics and surveys tell us anything, it’s that many of us (probably most of us) feel we are not praying as much as we ought.

 

Let’s be careful though.  Prayer is not some tick-box activity that we do to earn God’s favor.  Prayer is willing communication with God – something we will hopefully want to do, not something we are lawfully required to do.  Yes, you will please God by praying, you will benefit from it tremendously, but know that God doesn’t love you any less if you haven’t prayed.

 

In my own prayer life, I (like everybody) have had ups and downs, times when the prayer just flowed and times when the well went dry.  Forming new habits is tough, especially when you’re in a dry period.  That’s when you need others most – when the collective is better than the individual.  And this got me thinking: is our church known as a place of prayer? Do you think St. Timothy’s models the sort of daily prayer characteristic of its own Episcopal tradition?

 

Regardless of your answer, there’s is always room for improvement – right?  So let’s do this: as St. Timothy’s Church, let’s make  prayer a daily affair.  Culture changes don’t happen overnight, so to start us off let’s commit to a set time first. Starting May 6th, St. Timothy’s will have a time of prayer in the church at 12:15 p.m. every day, Monday to Friday.  You are welcome, our school family is welcome, and our wider community will be welcome.  Though the Noonday Service (BCP 103) will give us a starting place, let’s not come expecting a Sunday service, but rather come expectantly seeking to hear from God and how he wants to guide this church and its people.

 

Whether you can make our noonday prayer or not, let me encourage you to take seriously your own devotion to prayer.  Please don’t plot my demise for saying this, but there are other ways to pray then the Book of Common Prayer.  You might use another type of daily devotional, you might pray extemporaneously (a.k.a. prayer on the fly!), or you might consider doing prayer walks or even larger pilgrimages.  The key is to do it and do it regularly.  Like any habit we want to form it will get easier, become more instinctive, and become more ingrained the more you do it.

 

Lord, the one thing your disciples asked you to teach them was how to pray.  Teach us, your children at St. Timothy’s Church, to pray with ceasing – expectant that you will speak and minister to us as we seek to live lives that honor you.  Amen

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