We are told that, before Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, he was praying in ‘a certain place.’ And, while we can and should pray absolutely anywhere, it is helpful to have a place, a sacred or thin space, which prompts us to recognise the presence of God around us. To hear the pulse of Life that is always there – but we are often too busy to notice.
So where can we pray?
Well, not surprisingly, as a Vicar I find that the easiest place to pray is in a church – whether in a service or not. Stepping inside a church building just prompts me to pray. And so, as soon as I see a spire or a tower, I’m drawn in.
But, of course, you might just as easily pray in a car park – and there have been many times when I have done just that.
A few days ago I discovered, however, the wonderful story of Susanna Wesley and her special sacred space for prayer.
Susanna was the mother of nineteen children, of whom John Wesley was the 15th and Charles Wesley the 18th. She had a difficult life – not only because she was not wealthy and she had so many children to raise but also because her husband was twice imprisoned for fraud.
Nonetheless Susanna kept her faith and prayed every day.
So where was her place of prayer?
There was nowhere she could escape from the business of home life – so, whenever she wanted time with God, she would simply pull her apron over her head. And create her own unique prayer room.
In this way, her children knew what she was doing and that it was time to leave her alone. And it gave her a brief interlude to pour out her heart, to pray for her children by name, to mourn her lost babies (she lost nine children) and to intercede for her husband.
Footballers often pull their shirts over their heads – and, reading about Susanna, made me wonder whether there isn’t an element of creating prayer-space in doing this. By getting away from the cheering crowds for a few seconds and just being with God in a special moment of elation. Even if the footballer might not recognise his action in this way.
So be encouraged by Susanna Wesley. Find a space for prayer – however busy or complicated your life is. And see the difference this makes.
I’ll finish with a prayer of Susanna Wesley
Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Your presence. So may my every word and action have moral content. May all the happenings of my life prove useful and beneficial to me. May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity of exercising some virtue and daily learning and growing towards Your likeness. Amen.