We are a group of four Anglican parish churches who enjoy working collaboratively in serving the people and communities of Beech Hill, Farley Hill, Grazeley, Riseley, Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Three Mile Cross. Our four parish churches are delightfully different in history and character, each offering a different take on what it means to be active, forward-looking, community-focussed churches of the 21st century. Each church also has its own style of worship, weekly activities and pattern of services that continue to evolve. You should find all you need to know about us as you engage with our website, but if you’d like to meet and talk something through in person… don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Livin’ on a prayer…
I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately. I’ll explain why later but here are few facts and figures which may surprise you.
Did you know that:
• 27 million adults in the UK pray
• 10 million pray regularly
• Half of those who pray believe that God hears their prayers
• Of people who say they are not religious 1 in 5 pray
I was blown away by these numbers – and I thought it was just me who was bothering God!
So, a few questions…
Why do people pray?
Research shows that usually people pray about something which is bothering them. A job interview, a health scare, a relationship issue or money worries. But did you know you don’t need to have a problem to pray. People also pray as they try to find out if there is something to help them make sense of life.
How do people pray?
Well that bit is actually easier than most people realise. Prayer is a conversation. No special words or place is needed. You can pray out loud or silently. And God knows all about you so you can talk to him about absolutely anything. You don’t get to know someone without chatting with them. Prayer is just that – a chat with God. Most of us long to have someone to talk to about our deepest innermost thoughts. Well, God’s waiting to hear from you. And he doesn’t judge and condemn – that’s just not who he is. He actually longs to hear from us.
How do I know someone will hear me?
And what if you’re not sure if there is a God? Well, how about starting a conversation with God and asking him to speak to you. You can find out for yourself if someone does listen and care about you. Try this…
So, a challenge, for those of you who want to give this a try. Do you have a ‘big issue’ in your life? Something you would really like God to do something about. Pray about this each day and just see what happens. Or what about someone you’re concerned about? How about you pray for them – or even with them – during the next week.
How to do it?
Just find a time and space that suits you. You could go out for a walk or sit in a quiet place. Even the bathroom is a good place to pray as no one will disturb you there, right! Then simply tell God what’s on your heart. If you’re worried about someone – tell God what you’re worried about. If you’re worried about a situation – same thing. Just imagine you are telling your best mate. And if you want to know if God is there, try this prayer ‘God, if you are there, and I am not sure if you are – but if you are, I want to know you. I don’t want to fool myself; I really want to know. So, as I pray please make yourself known to me’.
If you are interested in more resources, there is a great app called ‘trypraying’ which guides you through 7 days. Plus, there are videos and other resources on trypraying.co.uk.
I’ve been praying for my son looking for his first job. What’s on your mind to pray for?
Oh, and one last thing, do let us know your experiences. My email is in the magazine (p75); drop me a line.
Revd Cath Spence