A prayer for Advent
God our hope and our desire,
We wait for your coming
As a woman longs for the birth,
The exile for her home,
The lover for the touch of his beloved,
And the humble poor for justice.
Janet Morley, for Christian Aid
Prayer is at the heart of Christian life because through it we seek to build relationship with that creative source of all that exists whom we label ‘God’. Christian prayer is distinctive because Christians understand God most clearly as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three eternal and unchanging aspects of the one indivisible God who creates and redeems us by the power of his love.
That love is shown throughout the world’s history but above all in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although the idea of ‘God’ can seem remote, in the person of Jesus we see (as one of the Church’s prayers has it) ‘the invisible God made visible and so we are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see’.
Prayer is about making space to be caught up in that love of God, making contact in whatever way seems easiest to you. You need do no more than make space to listen to God by trying to find some stillness and quiet in which you can talk to God and listen. God accepts us as we are and not as we might feel we ought to be. This God continually strengthens us for life’s journey through the Holy Spirit. In baptism we become part of the body of Christ in the church and within the life of the church we are nurtured and travel together on our pilgrimage of life as we worship, learn and receive Holy Communion together.
There are many ways of praying and many, many books offering guidance on how to pray! It’s easy to get too much advice and feel daunted by the skills of others. Remember that the God who loves us beyond all our imaginings merely wants us to seek him as we are. Below are a few simple prayers that you might find helpful:
A prayer of St Richard of Chichester, a 13th century Bishop of Chichester:
Dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see you more clearly,
love you more dearly
and follow you more nearly
day by day. Amen
A prayer of St Augustine of Hippo, one of the great theologians of the 4th century, who, despite his insight into God, could feel as confused as any of us:
O Lord, I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of my way and guide me? Amen