Some hints about prayer, as Easter approaches

Acknowledgments are always appreciated. Parents enjoy giving to their children, but they also teach them to say ‘thank-you’. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one bothered to express his thanks. For couple of weeks, try saying just ‘thank you’ prayers. If you are out of the habit, you may find gratitude needs fresh effort, but makes a big difference to the day.

Why is prayer needed? Think of yourself as one of God’s agents in your neighbourhood. He wants you as a conduit; when you pray, you are opening up a means of collaborating with God’s will. C. S. Lewis suggested that God passes on to human beings any responsibility which they can take. Work and prayer are two ways of accomplishing what God wants.

Dealing with doubt. You may find yourself asking if it’s all an illusion. A group of Rabbis met after the Holocaust to put God on trial. How could He have let his people suffer in that way? They considered the evidence, then pronounced a guilty verdict, or more precisely said, “He owes us something”. Then they went to pray as they had always done. Prayer is instinctive. Try doubting your doubts.

Is prayer superstition? There’s a joke about a driver who was desperate for a parking place and promised God he would go to church next Sunday and put £10 in the plate if God found him one. Nothing happened. He increased the offer to £100, but without success. Finally, he offered £1,000 and immediately found a space. “The deal’s off”, said the driver, “I found one anyway.” A former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, was asked if answers to prayer were just coincidences. He replied, “the more often I pray, the more often coincidences happen.” By the way, bribing God doesn’t work!

You are not alone. Not only is Jesus alongside you when you pray, so are billions of others, even if you can’t see them. We join with ‘angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven’ as well as the Church across the world, every time we pray. The pattern prayer taught by Jesus begins “Our Father”, so it’s for all of us.