An Archbishop on Prayer
Archbishop of Canterbury (1940-1942)
Archbishop of York (1929-1942)
William Temple's reply to mocking that "answered prayer was a mere coincidence" was, "That may be true, but I've noticed that when I pray coincidences happen and when I don't, they don't."
So how did the Bishop pray so that coincidences happened in his life?
What might have been the awarenesses and experiences that led him to make a strong statement like this?
What have others discovered as they have wrestled with this quotation?
Is answered prayer more than coincidence?
Lots of questions; what might be some answers?
A Poem about Answered Prayer (Adapted)
She was a Christian, and he prayed.
She asked for strength that she might do greater things,
but she was given infirmity to do better things.
He asked for riches that he might be happy;
he was given poverty that he might be wise.
She asked for power that she might have the praise of all;
she was given weakness that she might feel the need of God.
He asked for all things that he might enjoy life;
he was given life that he might enjoy all things.
She had received nothing that she asked for;
But all that she hoped for.
His prayer is answered, he is most blessed.
JESUS IN THE GARDEN
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
A little different from what we heard this morning - but same theme.
An Affirmation - 1John 5
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him...
This web page has grown out of preparation done for a diocesan lay ministry training day during May 2013.
When it is our intent in prayer to seek and find the will of God, prayers will be answered; coincidences will happen.
Not because we always get exactly what we thought we were asking for; but that we receive the grace to know and understand that God is in our praying.
In effect, we discover the will of God in blessing and affirmation.
Silence in Prayer
Silence in prayer is active listening. When we are intentionally silent in the presence of God, we are most open to hearing the will of God.
As this will is revealed so our praying comes into accordance with God's desires for us.
Therefore our prayer becomes God's will. It cannot but be answered.
Our Questions Answered?
Could it be that we have heard the heart of the Archbishop when he wrestled with his awarenesses of coincidences happening when he prayed.
Two Ways of Praying
Lectio divina or sacred reading is a simple and ancient way of praying with Scripture. It leads us naturally from a rational consideration of how
a few verses of Scripture might connect with our current life, to a personal response in prayer and a gentle resting in the love of God, the beginnings of contemplation.
The examen is an old term used to describe a time of reflection at day’s end.
In its simplest form, the examen can mean asking ourselves questions which are designed to help us identify the ‘consolations’ and ‘desolations’ in our lives - ‘the interior movements through which divine revelation unfolds’. We learn to recognise those things which give us life and energy or which drag energy away from us, leaving us feeling drained and empty instead of renewed and encouraged.