A recent TEAR Fund snap-shot survey confirms my inkling that more people are praying these days: Over the last 6 weeks a 5% increase in prayer & UK church attendance (online), particularly among 18 – 24year olds, with men more likely to attend church or pray for the first time than women. It isn’t conclusive, but it suggests that crisis & the precariousness of life stir our souls to seek help, comfort & courage from beyond ourselves.
Pete Greig notices that our English word ‘prayer’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘precarius’, tweeting, “We pray because life is both precarious and marvellous. Because we find ourselves lost for many things, but not for the simplest words like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘wow’, and ‘help’.”
My road cycling airs much prayer, such is the precarious nature of a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man in Lycra) hurtling down hills & being overtaken by courier vans rushing from delivery to delivery. But, oh the beauty at every turn which gives rise to praise.
No wonder the 2nd 10 commandment cautions against allowing the visible world to obscure its awesome Maker. Easily we can exchange the imminent presence of God for a surface and superficial worship of nature, wealth, family, favourite activities & other created things. I love photography and capturing views, but run the risk of being more interested in ‘angles’ than ‘angels’. It’s the difference between treating visible things as icons or idols, using them as windows through which to see & worship God or walls to hide God.
But, when we open our souls to God’s Loving Spirit in daily living, we hear echoes of another world, sense God’s powerful personal presence & catch glimpses of Heaven through Creation & see how much we need God in life’s precarious experiences.
Whether it’s the cherry blossom swirling around like confetti, the bluebells filling forests & lining country roads, glorious sunsets, stupendous views of Arran, everywhere is evidence of a great designer & imagineer, worthy of our adoration. And whether it’s through sickness, bereavement, fear, uncertainty or anxiety brought on by realisation of how vulnerable & precarious we are, all around are plenty of pauses & prompts to pray for God’s Help, Health & Strength. In the loving sacrificial care, compassion & concern of neighbours, key workers, frontline fighters & strangers, abound down-to-earth examples of ‘Why’ God made us: For Loving Harmonious Relationships with God, Self, Others & Our Planet.
What confidence can we have in praying to God through Jesus Christ? Every confidence in the world, for God has shown us the depth of his love & commitment to us by coming in person to be ‘with us’ & die ‘for us’ in Jesus Christ. In our precariousness God wants us to know how precious we truly are to Him.
1 John 5:14-15 (MSG) – The Reality, Not the Illusion
“My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.”