In my last appointment, an ecumenical church I served ran a ‘Week of Accompanied Prayer‘. I missed out somehow, and was jealous of the members who clearly had a wonderful spiritual experience. So when our Catholic friends here in Knaphill offered to put one on in the village, I was an enthusiastic supporter. It started today. It’s like a mini-retreat without going away, where you have the benefit of low-key spiritual direction in your prayer life from a ‘prayer guide’ each day.
We began with a simple service and got to meet our prayer guides this afternoon. I was invited to choose a Bible passage to pray on this evening before I meet my prayer guide for the first formal session tomorrow morning. I chose Isaiah 43:1-5 from the selection offered. It made me think of an old song by Andy Piercy and Dave Clifton, from the same CD as contained their more famous ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow’. I can’t find a video online of them singing this, so here is someone’s cover version of ‘Precious In Your Eyes’:
As for other reflections on the passage itself, I had thought I would just read it pietistically, but I can’t deny the ‘theological’ side of me. So I brought into my reflections the fact that this comes from the section of Isaiah that is directed to them in exile in Babylon, when the prophet tells them that God will bring them home. They are precious in God’s eyes despite their sin. God does not give up on his people. That is something for all God’s people – me included – to cherish.
I’ll see how tomorrow goes. One thing I’m looking forward to is this: I mentioned to my prayer guide today that I find it hard to enter for myself into the kinds of prayer where I am expected to imagine what my five senses tell me. I can lead those sessions for others, but they don’t work for me, and I think it’s because in Myers Briggs terms I’m an ‘N’ – an Intuitive. I am a ‘sixth sense’ person who sees the big picture, not an ‘S’ – a Sensory person who uses the ‘five senses’ and concentrates on fine detail. Yet I enjoy photography, which as Jerry Gilpin pointed out to me on my last sabbatical, is definitely an ‘S’ practice. On quiet days in the past I have been known to take my camera gear out and about, and use it to meditate on creation. My prayer guide mentioned something about knowing a retired Anglican priest who may have some material on using photography this way, so we’ll see.
“Of course we do!” someone may protest at that headline.
But … after one of those manic days yesterday, I just wonder. I was picking music and readings for two services, I had two funerals, Debbie and I visited a mother and her new baby, a hoped-for peaceful lunch time turned into a frantic time of arranging emergency help for someone in dire need, we had to get the children to their annual eye tests, and the sugar fondant coating was Circuit Meeting in the evening. It made me remember those people who value ministers according to their busyness.
How different that is from the concept of being paid a stipend, not a salary, because a stipend is a living allowance that is to free us from want so we can pray. Yes, pray about how we should follow our calling as ministers, but pray.
Oh, we are asked to pray in public worship and include certain individuals in our private prayers, but even that is prayer as achievement, not prayer as waiting or contemplation. The busyness bug even infects what prayer we do practise, or which is approved. Are we really Pelagians at heart, or might we still just about believe in grace?
This topic keeps coming up lately among friends and colleagues. Why are we unable and unwilling to talk about God and talk to God, even among Christians? What stops us? What disempowers us? What could be stranger than Christians who don’t want to talk about God or with God?
Prayer meetings are dying, but on the other hand in my experience they’ve never been popular and it’s also true that Sunday evening church services are dying. A prayer meeting on a Sunday evening maybe a fatal combination. A crisis will galvanise us together, but regular bread-and-butter corporate prayer isn’t attractive.
Conversations after church – we default to the weather and our aches and pains. We might just talk about whether we liked the hymns. Maybe there will be the odd comment about the sermon, but it won’t dominate the caffeinated discussions.
Small groups tend to be just that – small. Some of that is about personality – some people are comfortable in discussion groups, and some indeed get too comfortable, putting others off with their belligerent expositions. Others feel exposed.
The one person who must talk about God and who must talk to God is, of course, the minister. She is our representative. He can do this for us.
And all of this before we even get to the question of talking about God outside the boundaries of the fellowship.
Some years ago, the Methodist Church recognised this problem. A national survey of church life identified that in our tradition we were strong on social issues but weak on talking about our faith. So it produced some material to help: Time To Talk of God. There was a lesser-known follow-up course on evangelism, Talking of God. But how much has changed?
If I am right that little has changed, why might this be? There could be all sorts of reasons:
* Our fear of others is stronger than our sense of God’s love
* We like to have just enough religion to feel we’re ‘in’, but not so much that we’re regarded as fanatical
* Churches (including leaders) are not offering the best education and training in the faith that we could
* Church leaders actually like hogging the power and influence, and don’t introduce more than they have to that would empower others. It’s nice to be the ‘expert’
These are all just some initial random thoughts about the issue. If I sat down longer, I might put together some eloquent piece about our lack of eloquence. But I’d rather just bash the keyboard and get this out quickly to ask – what do you think?
This video has been around quite a while now. Does it get too close to the truth about the practice of prayer as a shallow monologue?
You can buy and download it here, BTW.
I’m thinking of writing some guidelines for those who lead prayers of intercession in church. I have a few ideas of my own – range of themes to cover, overall length, how to signpost the prayers since most people will have their eyes closed, seeing them as representative of the congregation’s prayer life rather than exhaustive, etc. But before I get to this task I thought I would ask you, O noble blog reader, what you would include in any such document.
Suggestions are welcome below.
Depending on the appropriateness of the final content, I may post the document here on the blog.
We’ve just started a new course at Knaphill: Sacred Rhythms is a DVD course that abbreviates the book of the same name by Ruth Haley Barton, an American retreat leader and spiritual director. I’ve been reading her regular emails from The Transforming Center for some while. I’m about half way through the original book.
Why are we doing it? Because people asked at our annual meeting in the Spring for teaching on prayer. Barton says something striking about that: it is young Christians who typically do not ask how to pray, because they get on with it. As we become more mature, we hit more obstacles in prayer and realise we don’t know what we thought we knew. Ironically, it is the more experienced Christians who may have to come to the point of honesty, asking, “Teach us to pray.”
We had an excellent first meeting this week. The opening chapter or session locates ‘desire’ as a way into discovering why we need to develop the habits of spiritual disciplines that form a rule of life, in which we focus on Christ.
That sounds strange, even wrong, at first. However, Barton begins from the times in the Gospels when Jesus asks needy people like Bartimaeus questions such as, “What do you want me to do for you?” We could come up with selfish answers to that, or the question could expose honourable desires. Yet even if we come up with answers from sinful motives, these are exposed in the light of Christ and that is a first step to coming into a better place. Like Bartimaeus, we may need to ‘throw off our cloak’ to press towards what God has for us – we may need to let go of certain things that are not always sins in order to walk in the way of Christ.
At this early stage, I recommend the course to you. As a taster, here are the opening three minutes of it.
Today, I attended for the first time a Leaders’ Forum at Waverley Abbey House, home of CWR. These days (free, gratis and otherwise at no cost) had been recommended by a new ministerial friend here. The theme was The Leader’s Vital Breath – Prayer. I thought I would share one insight that came in this afternoon’s session led by Philip Greenslade.
Giving us an extended treatment of Psalm 73, he contrasted Islamic treatment of the Abraham story with the Jewish and Christian approaches. Referring to the incident where Abraham bargains with God for the salvation of the righteous in Sodom, he noted that the Qu’ran deletes the bargaining and Abraham is basically told to shut up. In other words, it’s pure Islam: ‘submission’ (which is what the word ‘Islam’ means). On the contrary, both the Jewish and Christian approaches allow for honest struggle with God in prayer (hence Psalm 73). Quoting Abraham Heschel, who said that for the Jewish prophets, ‘Thy will be done’ involved effectively praying ‘Thy will be changed’, he said that any proper understanding of ‘Thy will be done’ has to include Gethsemane.
Does not all true prayer involve struggle, he asked? If prayer is only submission (and some Christian traditions are guilty of this, too), then is it true prayer? Good question.
I think we are learning this lesson of being able to be honest with God in prayer more and more in today’s church, but it was good to have such a thought-provoking underlining of it.
So here it is, my very last sermon in Chelmsford. The next sermon will appear on this blog in early September, when I begin my new appointment. In the meantime, I hope to post other items here.
Our children, like so many, are always sustaining bruises on their legs from accidents. They tend to have a colourful collection at most times. Right now it’s Mark who is particularly prone, and when I wash him in the bath at night he tells me to be careful around his right knee. If I’m not watchful, he will flinch with pain.
Preachers know there are certain subjects for sermons where, if we’re not careful, we will cause congregations to wince as we touch their spiritual bruises. Talk about evangelism, and people will become defensive about whether and how they share their faith with others. Preach on giving, and it’s easy to induce guilt.
Another is prayer – the subject of today’s reading. It wouldn’t take too much effort to take the theme of prayer and load heavy weights of condemnation on a congregation: “Do you pray enough?” (Well, who can reply ‘Yes’ to that question?) “Are your prayers always answered?” (You can wriggle out of that one by saying, ‘Sometimes God says ‘no’,’ but you’re left feeling it’s a cop-out.) And so on.
Yet Jesus doesn’t use guilt trips here when he teaches about prayer. Our reading collects – in my opinion – three different episodes about Jesus and prayer and edits them together. In each of them, what we have is not condemnation but encouragement in prayer. As a way of identifying each section, I am going to label each of them by a person who features in them.
The first character is the teacher. And I mean Jesus himself. ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples,’ says one of his own disciples (verse 1).
Now in some sense, Jesus is the teacher of prayer right throughout this passage, but in the first four verses this is especially in focus. This unnamed disciple asks him to teach the group how to pray – and after all, that’s what a rabbi did with his disciples: he taught them. Hence the fact that John had taught his disciples how to pray.
Furthermore, the request comes after Jesus ‘was praying in a certain place’ (verse 1). In other words, he had been praying and his disciples had been observing his practice. This was common practice for a rabbi with his disciples: the rabbi lived his life openly before his disciples, and they began to learn by watching and copying his example.
Jesus teaches prayer by example. It’s ‘Do as I do, as well as do as I say’ with him. We don’t have the privilege of observing him praying ‘in the flesh’, but we do have the testimony of four Gospels to his life, including his prayer life. He has left an example for us to follow, in both carving our special time for prayer and also spontaneously praying when the need arises. We see both the joy of his intimacy with the Father and the agony of responding to the Father’s will in Gethsemane. We see the prayer life of Jesus as one where he does not merely present a shopping list to God, but seeks to tune himself into the will of the Father and then live accordingly. In doing so, he teaches us how to pray.
Perhaps this also means it’s worth looking out for people who will teach us to pray. Jesus may be the supreme example of prayer, but throughout the centuries, the Church has known that certain people have had specific gifts both in prayer and in teaching prayer by example. It’s why one of the great gifts from the Catholic tradition to the rest of Christianity is the idea of the ‘spiritual director’ – one who can teach the spiritual life, including prayer, by example. There is much more to the work of the spiritual director than that, but it certainly includes this. Friends of mine who have spiritual directors and who meet with them every few months testify to the benefit that has on their growth in prayer.
Of course, Jesus doesn’t only teach by example, he also teaches by pattern. He gives a specific pattern here, which we have come to call ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (verses 2-4). Some Christians call it ‘the pattern prayer’, and I think that isn’t a bad name for it. Given that we have two different forms of the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospels – a concise version here in Luke and a longer one in Matthew 6 – it would be hard to argue that the apostolic Church thought Jesus simply wanted us to repeat these words by rote, as if they were a magic incantation. And then, of course, you find that when I lead worship, I don’t use what many call the ‘traditional’ words of the Lord’s Prayer, but a modern translation!
Without going into the details of the Lord’s Prayer this morning – I don’t have time and when I have done, it has been a series of sermons – the simple point I want to make is that Jesus gives us this pattern so that we can pray in a fashion that reflects God’s priorities. How many of us have become bored with prayer when we have reduced it to a shopping list? So the name, honour and purposes of God come before we get to pray for ourselves in the second half, although God is deeply concerned for our spiritual and material needs. The pattern reminds us that prayer is not limited to a set of requests.
And that leads into the second section of teaching on prayer here. In the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, Jesus introduces us to the second key character here in understanding prayer, the neighbour.
Now here is where I want to take our conventional understanding of this parable and turn it on its head. Most preachers will tell you this parable is told to encourage persistence in prayer. They will point to typical translations of verse 8 at the end of the story as evidence of this:
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
Furthermore, they will link with the teaching that follows where disciples are exhorted to ask, search and knock and point out that the Greek literally means, ‘Go on asking’, ‘Go on searching’ and ‘Go on knocking’.
However, this explanation does not fit the cultural background of ancient and modern Israel-Palestine. Without boring you with all the technical details, there is a very good argument to translate verse 8’s punchline differently. Rather than referring to the persistence of the man who knocks, it refers to the neighbour who is woken up. And it is the neighbour’s desire to avoid shame that Jesus highlights.
Why? Leaving aside complicated questions of translation and which Aramaic or Hebrew words might be behind the Greek of Luke’s Gospel, it would have been a scandal in the hospitable culture of the Middle East for a neighbour not to help the person who had had a friend turn up on his doorstep out of the blue. Were he to fail to help, he would bring shame on himself and heap shame on the village.
Therefore what Jesus teaches us through the neighbour is that God will respond to our needs in prayer because if he did not, it would bring shame and dishonour on his holy name. While it is good not to give up in prayer (as Jesus teaches elsewhere in Luke 18 in the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge), God is not someone who has to be harangued and cajoled into answering prayer. Just as we call God ‘Father’ in the Lord’s Prayer, so he listens to his children. Just as we pray that his name will be hallowed, so he will ensure that his name is not besmirched by failing to care for his children.
So we should not see the Parable of the Friend at Midnight as reason for badgering God. Rather, God is the true neighbour in prayer who will give what we need, even at great personal cost and inconvenience to himself. Even, I would suggest, the cost and ‘inconvenience’ of the Cross. Be encouraged: this is the caring, loving God in whom we put our trust. He is better than we often think he is.
And that neatly leads us to the third character here that teaches us about prayer, the Father. Isn’t it good news that God is kinder than we often portray him to be?
It is good news – for some. But others find it scandalous. As Jesus goes on to commend the idea of asking, seeking and knocking, and as he envisages human parents who will not substitute a snake for a fish or a scorpion for an egg, there is something withering here that our English partly disguises. Did you notice that reference to ‘you, then, who are evil’ (verse 13)? Put that together with the fact that Jesus introduces these words with the formula, ‘So I say to you’ (verse 9) which he sometimes uses when addressing enemies, and I think you can see that Jesus has turned from addressing disciples to confronting critics.
Let me suggest to you that here Jesus is emphasising the scandal of God’s love. He says that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find and everyone who knocks will have the door opened for them (verse 10). Jesus’ enemies didn’t like the way he threw open the kingdom of God to the disreputable, the unclean and the marginalised. So Jesus offends those critics here by telling them that God the Father’s love is so scandalously good that he doesn’t just answer the righteous, the respectable, the elite, the in-crowd: he answers the prayers of sinners! No: even his ‘evil’ critics can give good things to their children: how much more will God give what is good and even the best to ‘everyone’! Terrible! Disgusting!
Worse than that, though: the scandalous God and Father of Jesus will give of himself to wretched sinners: he will give the Holy Spirit to them if they ask (verse 13)! He does not limit the spiritual action to the priestly classes, the theologically educated and the financially privileged. He opens ‘wide the gate of glory’ to all and sundry!
So let no-one here think they are not good enough for God to listen to them. The God of grace invites prayer from anyone.
And let no-one here think that anybody we know – however outrageous their lifestyles – is beyond the potential embrace of God’s love. I have encouraged you before to offer prayer for friends outside the faith who have needs, and to let them know you are praying for them. But I would also say on the basis of this text that we can encourage those same people themselves to pray. Who knows how they might be surprised by the way God responds to the cries of their hearts?
Various friends of mine have at times gone out onto the streets and offered prayer for anyone who would like it. One of them, a vicar called Simon, once found himself and a friend surrounded by some sceptical teenagers. Rather than debate with them, they offered to pray for them. In the middle of praying, the lads started to feel what they described as some strange but wonderful sensations.
“What was that?” they asked.
“The Holy Spirit,” said Simon.
“Would you pray for us again?”
Simon did. They experienced God again.
I’m not saying it will always be that sensational – any more than it always is for us. But I am saying that Jesus here presents the daring God of outrageous grace who is not constrained by the restrictive rules of decent people. So full of fatherly love is he that his heart bursts with compassion for all of creation. Let us dare to believe in such a God, the God of Jesus. Let us dare others to believe in him, too.
Truly, God is better than we think he is.
 Kenneth Bailey, Poet and Peasant, pp 119-141.
There’s a useful post called Leading a Church in Prayer at Leadership Journal, by Kevin DeYoung. Any Worship leader, preacher of minister would benefit from reading it. What do you think of DeYoung’s advice? What would you add?
When I began at secondary school, I was given a homework diary. It was designed as a record of all the homework I was assigned and had completed, and my parents had to sign it each week. Within it were the expectations of the school about the amount of work that would be involved. When you started at the school, you would have two pieces of homework a night, each lasting thirty minutes. But by the time you revised for public examinations, that would increase to what the headmaster gleefully called “endless toil”.
I suspect many churchgoers see the Christian faith as a matter of ‘endless toil’. Not simply the relentless list of jobs to be done in church (as some people here know only too well), but the sense that you will never have done enough in order to please God. The Methodist ordination service says that the ministry will make great demands on ministers and their families, and while it goes onto promise the help of the Holy Spirit, it nevertheless leaves an impression that genuine ministry is about ‘busyness’. That’s certainly the way congregations often measure their ministers – are they busy? More worryingly, it’s often the way ministers measure their own value. Am I busy? A full diary becomes a sign of spirituality.
So we come to Martha and Mary. We may be tempted to think that the contrast is between Martha, who is on her feet, and Mary, who sits at Jesus’ feet. If we value the idea of being busy, we will have a problem with Jesus’ commendation of Mary. A church member I once knew said she felt sure Luke didn’t record the whole story, and that Jesus would have asked Mary to go and help Martha.
But the story is not a contrast between Martha ‘doing’ and Mary ‘being’. It cannot be. It occurs immediately after the Parable of the Good Samaritan (which was last week’s Lectionary Gospel reading, and you may have had a sermon on it). Jesus can hardly commend the radical action of the Samaritan one day, and condemn Martha for being busy the next day. Maybe instead this story balances the Good Samaritan story.
Martha’s problem is not that she has a lot to do. It is that she is ‘distracted by her many tasks’ (verse 40), as Luke puts it. Jesus tells her she is ‘worried and distracted by many things’ (verse 41). The worry and the distraction are the core issues. Martha is frantic and fretful. And that’s where Jesus picks her up.
In some respects, worry and distraction are only human. How often have you said to someone – perhaps a loved one – “You drive me to distraction”? Maybe a son or daughter gives you cause for concern. Perhaps you don’t have enough money for all you think you need. It wouldn’t be surprising if worry took over.
Or it might be that you believe that your acceptance by God depends on whether you are a good enough person. You devote all your energies to doing what you are believe are the right things. However, it’s a tyranny, because you never know whether you have reached an acceptable standard. Probably you haven’t, and so with even more worry you redouble your efforts. All the time you do this, you might say you believe in the love of God, but really your whole existence is being lived in complete doubt as to whether God loves you or not. Your image of God is actually of a tyrant.
Think of some attitudes we encounter in the church. We are told that we should not be slapdash in our preparing to meet God – quite rightly: excellence is a noble thing. But someone then says to us, “You wouldn’t be so careless if the Queen were coming to your house; why are you about meeting the King of Kings?” We then feel that nothing we can ever do is good enough for God. Either we strive even more, or we give up in despair.
If it’s not a matter of fear, it might be a question of pride. If I can earn my own place of favour with God, how good am I? it’s tantamount to saying, “I don’t need the Cross of Christ. I can make my own way to God on my own.” It’s as if we dare to stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgement and say, “Lord, it was awfully decent of you to die on the Cross for the sins of the world, but you really didn’t need to, old chap.”
Another way of looking at the motives behind being distracted by the tasks we have to do is to see it in terms of urgency. There is so much that needs doing, and so little time. So I have to crack on. I can’t let up. Something will be missed if I don’t keep at it relentlessly.
But of course, while this may sound like an efficient use of time, it is both foolish and dangerous. It is like saying, “I have a long car journey to make today. I cannot afford to stop for a rest, and neither do I have the time to call in at a petrol station and refuel.” This is the plague of being distracted with busyness: our commitment to keep on do-do-doing all the time may be for honourable intentions, but it sucks us dry. It leaves us with nothing to feed on, and nothing to offer. Is it any wonder many churches seem as arid as the desert when the distractions of busyness dominate such places?
All of which brings us to Mary’s honoured place in this story. We pause a moment to note how revolutionary it was that Jesus was teaching her in the first place. Women did not normally have the privilege of being taught by a rabbi. But Jesus was different. He was ushering in a kingdom that was open to female and male, child and adult, Gentile and Jew. Martha in her fretting and worrying had missed the fact that Jesus was teaching a woman – like her! She could have had this privilege, but her over-busy lifestyle means she misses this radical implication of the Gospel. It makes you wonder how much of the Good News we also miss, because we are too obsessed with doing this, that and everything.
So what makes Mary’s grabbing of her Gospel privilege as a daughter of God so important? For one thing, she understands something about grace. She knows that before anything else, a disciple needs to receive from Jesus. Discipleship doesn’t start or depend on all the effort we make for God: it begins with God graciously and lovingly approaching us in Christ, especially in the Cross. For there we learn that we are not people who are capable of pleasing God by our own efforts. We need God’s forgiveness in Christ through his death in our place. Everything starts there for the Christian. And it sets a pattern for the whole of life. It all begins with Jesus, not us. In a simple way, I believe Mary knew that.
Therefore, alongside the joy Mary has being a woman whom Jesus has chosen to teach, there is a basic humility. If Martha stands over Jesus, Mary sits at his feet. Everything worthwhile will come from Jesus taking the initiative and listening to him. Jesus himself said he only did what he saw the Father doing; it becomes the rôle of the disciple to listen to Jesus first and then respond.
All of which tells us that Mary’s action is not a case of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is ‘being’ before ‘doing’. She takes the old maxim of ‘Don’t just sit there, do something’ and reverses it into ‘Don’t just do something, sit there’.
Why? She knows that you can’t set off on all those good and noble tasks that Martha has plunged herself into unless you have first received direction from Jesus. What does he want me to do? There are plenty of good things to do in the world, but I cannot do them all. Which ones does he want me to take on? When you know that, you are freed from the frazzling effect of a Martha-like frantic lifestyle. There is no danger that Mary will simply stay at the feet of Jesus and not turn it into action – she won’t be a hypocrite like that. But she knows what needs to come first.
Put it this way: the English word ‘obedience’ has its roots in the Latin word ‘audire’ – which means ‘to hear’. Mary has to hear from Jesus first, before plunging into work.
Not only that, Mary knows that you need a balance in your Christian life that features both being and doing. We need both action and reflection. It is something the early church came to understand very quickly. Think of the story in Acts chapter 6 where there is a crisis over the distribution of food to Greek-speaking widows. The apostles resist the idea that they must do everything. They ensure that the food distribution project continues by having the community appoint a team of Spirit-filled people to undertake it. For themselves, though, they cannot compromise their call to ‘the ministry of the Word and prayer’. Between the apostles and the team appointed to serve the widows, the balance is held: the community together embraces both listening to God and practical action for the kingdom of God.
What it amounts to is this: you can’t just be a ‘being’ person and you can’t just be a ‘doing’ person. Nor can the church just be one or the other. If all we do is listen, pray and contemplate, we will be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use. If all we do is plunge ourselves into action, we shall burn out. The Marys of this world know that you have to fill up the car before you can set out on the journey.
I hope the implications for all of us are clear, especially because I believe this is often important for Methodists. Surveys in recent years have shown that generally we are a people who are good at social action but less comfortable with prayer. Jesus wants Marys, but Methodists are often Marthas. Too many of us therefore become discouraged, exhausted and burnt out.
We need to find our ways of sitting at the feet of Jesus before we do anything else. Exactly how we do it will vary from person to person, because we have different personalities and temperaments, and our life circumstances are not the same. But we need our own ‘ministry of the Word and prayer’ in some form: we need to reflect on the Scriptures and how they are pointing us to Jesus, and we need to pray. These things need to be more than just something that is done for us on a Sunday, and they need to be more than at crisis times. In my experience, we need to aim for a daily pattern of devotion.
So you may find that first thing in the morning works best. You may like to reflect prayerfully on the day at its end. You may be one of those people who likes to read the Scriptures and pray during a lunch break, reviewing how things have gone so far and looking forward to the rest of the day.
You may use Bible reading notes, a daily Lectionary, a website or some other pattern. You may find one approach to prayer works better than another for you. Just so long as it’s Christ-centred, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the time of Bible reading and prayer doesn’t just feed your head with interesting titbits of information, it draws you close to Jesus.
For if it does, you will soon find that by sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary, he will then raise you to your feet for action.
And – unlike Martha – you will be ready and equipped.