What if we really got the chance to meet up with God and speak to him and hear what He has to say?
Wouldn’t that be amazing?
But that is, of course, exactly what prayer purports to be.
So why does it so often not feel like that then?
Why does prayer sometimes feel, as the Presbyterian preacher and author George Buttrick put it, like ‘a spasm of words lost in cosmic indifference?’
Is God listening when we pray? Will God do the things we are asking Him to do? Will God pay attention to us and the things we are concerned about? Does God really love us?
All these questions come to mind when we pray.
But, at the same time, we might ask ourselves – are we listening when we pray? Will we do the things God is asking us to do? Will we pay attention to God and the things He is concerned about? Do we really love God?
Whatever our experience of prayer, whether we feel we have received answers to our prayers or not, prayer always makes a difference.
Because prayer always brings us into alignment with the will of God and surely this is the prayer underlying all prayers - that ‘Thy will be done.’
There’s a wonderful prayer said before every sitting of the House of Commons. It goes like this:
Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.
What a difference this prayer must make as ministers and MPs ready themselves to carry out their delegated responsibilities on behalf of the whole nation.
What a sadness that attendance for this time of prayer is only optional.