Every Sunday we pray in church in a variety of ways.
We listen to readings and try to relate them to our own lives. This is not always easy, and preaching is meant to help us with that – often it doesn’t, or not very much…
We sing hymns, when we are allowed to, but at the moment we can’t because of Coronavirus. This is sad, because as St. Augustine said, “When we sing, we pray twice!”
We receive Jesus in the Sacrament, although for the moment we are not allowed to receive ‘our spiritual drink’ because of the fear of cross infection. We all hope that will change before too long.
All of this is prayer, both individual and corporate.
And at one point in the service we pray what are usually called prayers of intercession. This usually involves, at some point, the reading of a list of names of people who are in some way thought to be needy. In one church I worked at half the names on the list were people nobody could identify or remember, so I don’t know what the point of that was.
But what do we think we are doing when we pray for others and what difference does it make, if any? Are we asking God to change his mind about something, or are we just asking God how we can help someone else – a worthy thing to do, but a bit uninspiring and unimaginative….
Much of this may well be beyond our limited understanding because we can’t recognise, in many cases, whether our prayer has actually made any difference.
The Christian teaching known as the Catechism, a guide to faith used in many denominations, suggests two main things for us to consider about this kind of prayer.
The first is simply this: at the heart of all our prayer there should be one simple request to God: ‘Your will be done’. In Gethsemane Jesus asked that his Good Friday cup of unimaginable suffering might be taken from him. But in faith he added the words ‘Nevertheless, your will be done’.
And secondly, we need to discover for ourselves that our prayers are always answered by God, not always immediately (he is not a magician at our service!), not always in the way we think is best, or in the way we expect. So we pray that with the eyes of faith we will see that our prayers are both heard and answered.
All of this leads me to a request to you, dear friends at Holy Trinity!
We are looking for some more people to lead the intercessions at our Sunday Eucharists. If you think you could do this, let us know. Don’t worry about having not done it before or being nervous or embarrassed! We will give you full instructions and supervision when you start. Please take a risk, because that is what being faithful is all about. Just give it a try… If you can help, please speak to Nicholas or Sunny, and we will get you started.