Prayer. Talking to God. Confessing. Praising. Pleading. Interceding. Petitioning. Whispering. Shouting. Politely requesting. Passionately engaging. Reading aloud. Collective. Individual. Heartfelt. Dutiful. Inspired. Grudging. Loving. Healing. Restorative. Transformative.
Prayer can look and sound like many different things, but at its heart it is about how we communicate and converse with God. Conversations which can be experienced in a multitude of ways. As we journey through Easter this month I wonder if we can be mindful of the prayers we encounter in Scripture, the variety offered up, the range of emotions displayed by those in conversation with God.
Recently I have been reading through the book of Acts with my kids and felt challenged as to how I experience prayer myself, as they try to grasp (and I attempt to explain) how we can talk to someone we can’t see, and listen to someone we can’t physically hear. And why God answers some prayers and seemingly not others…and why there is a war in Ukraine that just doesn’t seem fair. I certainly can’t even pretend to have the answers. I just keep having to go back to God’s word because it is there I can show them how God teaches us to pray, and how God hears us and cares about what we pray, and how God responds when we pray.
In ‘Answering God’, Eugene Peterson tells readers that prayers are tools, “not tools for getting, but being and becoming. At the centre of the whole enterprise of being human, prayers are the primary technology. Prayers are tools that God uses to work his will in our bodies and souls. Prayers are tools that we use to collaborate in his work with us.”
Whatever our experience has looked like, the bible reminds us that there is power in the name of Jesus. “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) When we pray God moves, and the more we can collaborate with God and share with each other, as churches, as communities and as human beings, the more we will see His will and His heart for our lives.
The last few weeks during Lent have been amazing to join with so many of you from around the country as we have taken up praying for one another. We have prayed for and heard from Baptist churches and leaders in each region of Scotland, and it has been so inspiring, challenging and encouraging to hear the ways God is collaborating in his work with us as a Baptist family. As we meet to pray together in the run up to Easter let’s continue to share the other stories of God at work in our churches, and as James 5 reminds us, ‘to pray for one another’.
You can explore more in Connect this month as Christopher Anderson from Bristo Baptist shares the ways they are experiencing God at work through prayer walking; David Hill, founder of TryPraying encourages us to ‘Use and Lose’ a prayer booklet, and we gain practical insight into how we can contribute to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine through our partnership working with BUGB and EBF. We also have details of exciting events coming up, including Canopy, our summer gathering in June, CMD Workshops, and Recast, our new Podcast series hosted by Glenn Innes and Lisa Holmes. All this and more is detailed on our website www.scottishbaptist.org.uk.
As we go forward into April and Easter weekend, consider how you can pray for someone today? What is that one conversation that you have put off having with God? What does it mean for you to examine and pray into the Easter story? Whether you whisper, shout, talk, read, perhaps just try praying, and see what happens.
We would love to hear from you. To share a story of how you have experienced God through prayer, in your own life or in your church, email: firstname.lastname@example.org