Monday, March 20, 2006

When We Pray ... Then What?


When we pray, we seek the Spirit. That is the essence of prayer. Of course, it is excellent advice to be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Jesus promises, “if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” The gift of the Spirit is the answer to our prayers, for it brings us peace where we need it, serenity for what requires our courageous engagement, courage and strength to change what needs changing and a loving wisdom for discerning where we are called to engage and where we are called to step back.

OK. So now I’m curious in a practical sort of way. How do we seek the Spirit? How do we know when what we feel is, in fact, the presence of the Spirit and not just, oh, say, the spirits I just consumed (one glass of red wine, in case you’re counting) or the meatballs, or anger left over from some recent unpleasantness, or sadness at a loss? How do we move with the Spirit when we’re reasonably sure that it is the Spirit leading us? What steps to you take to pray? Are there words or phrases or thoughts that you find helpful? Are there actions? Are there places? Times of day? Situations? Does circling a fire and banging drums help? Just curious, that’s all.

5 comments:

Marty said...

When you say 'let us pray' during the service, instead of bowing my head and shutting my eyes, I look up, around, taking in all the beauty around me. I look at the stained glass windows, I look at the wonders of nature, listen for birds singing, trees budding, or the joy in all the people around me, and having them close by. As we talked about with Rusty this weekend, I marvel at the vastness of the universe, and I feel closer to myself, and God.

mr. doug said...

Great Question, Pastor Dave!

I describe it as a stirring in me. For example, there's HUGE injustice issues out here in South Dakota with the native americans. There are a few of us who have been speaking about this to one another and we feel that the Spirit puts this on our hearts. That, the Spirit can work through us to create change.

I also feel that the Spirit can be a voice, or words of advice.

Anonymous said...

Peg said
I feel the presence of God most consistently in two ways. I feel God in nature when I see beauty around me, hear the birds singing, experience the eternal - waves coming into shore, mountains always there, seasons that change in a predictable, if sometimes slow, way.
Second, I see God and experience the Eternal in other people - in the young people questioning life and searching to find who they are and in those who are older and wiser than I, there are some older still, who have experienced so much and allow God to shine from them. Today I heard God speak in the anger of someone who just returned from New Orleans. Ever present and I'm a part of it.

Anonymous said...

James here...I agree with Peg that I experience God and the Spirit in the words and actions of other people who move me. I experience a lot in my garden, the miracle each spring that little shoots begin to grow and peek through the mulch to renewed life (the weed shoots, in contrast, represent the devil and I smite them). I experience the Spirit in the quiet times in my day -- few as they are -- and in moments when I watch nature doing its thing, naturally and miraculously without human thought or guidance involved. God is in those places, it's harder to find him on the Toll Road or in my cube...

Anonymous said...

From Bryan:

At first I was going to say that I have a hard time "feeling" God's presence, but then when I read whta Peg wrote, the truth flooded through and I remembered. Everytime I walk to the metro in the morning for work, or I step outside to go to the store I look around at the beauty of creation and it is then that I see God, that I feel God's presence. Also, sometimes I see it in other people, or perhaps when something profound was said and those words stick with me and compel me to think about life or myself...

I have a hard time, though, on a regular basis "feeling" God's presence. I can't say that I really ever "feel connected" except during times of prayer or fellowship with others about God.