By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
I like to pray out loud and in front of people. Which is a good thing because it’s a pretty big part of my job.
I think I do an alright job at it, which is good because, once again, it is a pretty big part of my job.
What I’m not particularly good at is praying quietly by myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve prayed before, but I’ve never been particularly successful at finding the right rhythm of prayer that will help me to stay consistent with it. Put me in a stressful moment, and I’ll be praying. Give me a crisis and you better believe it. But the "five times a day" prayer rhythm that Adam Hamilton suggests in The Walk is something that I’ve never been able to get my hands around.
It’s a valuable practice, however, because we want to stay open to God’s voice in our life. If we want to hear God speak to us; if we want to be open to the Spirit’s guidance; if we want to allow ourselves to be transformed by God; we need to have the lines of communication open. Praying in times of crisis is good. And part of my job is praying for people, for the world, for my community. And this is good. I value the ability to pray together with people. I find the Spirit most active when prayer acts as an invitation to change a community. But I also need to remain mindful of the need to invite the Spirit to act on myself.
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
This prayer shows that we need to recognize that God is God of us as individuals and us as a people.
Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker
This prayer shows us that our worship is something done in community, in recognition of God’s lordship over all of us.
But the first part is just as important as the second part. Transformed communities are made of transformed individuals. The people shape the community just as much as the community shapes the people. So this is my work that I need to undertake. I’m putting this in writing because I want to feel accountable to my words. I’m going to try to pray more often, in my head, by myself. I’ll talk to God about what it is that is in my heart, and what it is that I may need.
I want my life to be a reflection of my prayers. I want to be transformed by my personal prayers to be God’s agent in the world. But to do that, I need to open myself up further.
So here I go.
Won’t you join me?
Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline