Sunday 19th July: Pentecost 7, with a summary of the Congregational thoughts to the Reflection Questions.

This service is based around Psalm 139: 1-11, 23-24 and Romans 8: 12-25

Our Rector, Rev Nick Wills leads the service (along with lots of different members of our church) and preaches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38ddm-u8_kg

Original Music Compositions by Neil Birse and Joanna Forbes L’Estrange used with permission. Hymns sung by the Birse family, and St Peter’s Choir. Gloria sung by the Forbes family. CCL Licence 43554 St Peter’s Church.

After the sermon on Sunday 19th July, the congregation were given five questions to consider. They were asked to send their thoughts to Kristee, who then summarised them. (The Sermon starts at 13.12 on the link above)

  1. What is prayer?
  2. When is a good time for you to pray? And where do you find is easiest to pray?
  3. Are there any daily rituals, like opening the shutters, that you could write a prayer for, in order to share them with God?
  4. Which areas of your daily life do you find it hardest to let God’s light into?
  5. Has someone ever prayed for you in a way which has changed how you understand prayer?

Summary below of the congregational responses by Kristee Boyd, Community Development:

Millions of people around the world spend time in prayer every day. Across faiths, people pray in worship, in gratitude and in blessing. People pray to ask for help and for forgiveness. People pray aloud and in silence. Given the broadness of the topic of prayer, and the personal nature of the way each of us connect to God in our own way, I was grateful for the many responses I received this week to the Reflection Questions posed on Sunday…

  1. What is prayer?

A number of people answered simply that prayer is conversation with God. Some commented that this conversation must take place in a two-way relationship, where we pray but we also keep our minds and ears open for answers. Others mentioned the importance of silence and stillness as a form of prayer. One lady shared her experience of participating in prayer vigils as a student. Another commented that we sometimes over-complicate our prayers, that prayer can be a simple one-word request… such as “Help.” One person candidly stated, “I feel it should be constant and that if I tried harder it should be as unconscious as breathing… I wish it were! But it is too easy to think of it as ‘asking God for stuff’ – help for people, myself…”

2. When is a good time for you to pray? And where do you find is easiest to pray?

St Peter’s folk have various practices which help them to keep prayer as a regular habit in their lives. Some people pray while undertaking their daily exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming laps. Others pray before bed each night and first thing in the morning. Some prefer to pray in church, using beloved liturgies. Others use liturgies or Psalms in their prayers at home.

One lady shared how she prays constantly throughout her day:

“I ‘chat to God’ from the moment I wake up ’til the time I go to bed. I say “Good Morning” to God & sing a wee song “This is the day that the Lord has made.” Just a line or two as I go to put the kettle on & feed my cat (I often thank God for my pet when he is on my lap & I feel the softness of his fur.) I pray when I’m doing the dishes, the laundry, on a bus in a queue at the supermarket, when my son holds me in his arms I thank God for him and pray for my son.”

Nature was also mentioned a number of times, as being the perfect place to find the inner peace that is necessary to slow down and pray. I personally identify with this way of praying and I’m reminded of a beautiful quote from John O’Donohue:

When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”

3. Are there any daily rituals, like opening the shutters, that you could write a prayer for, in order to share them with God?

One gentleman shared the following interesting ritual:

“After getting dressed in the morning I usually play the drum beating of the Scots March a number of times, bearing a particular country, nation or community in mind each time [The Scots March = a drum rhythm composed in 1527 and came to identify Scots military units in Europe until the Union with England].”

Another individual listed preparing vegetables for dinner, cooking and gardening as some rituals that offer an ideal time for prayer. Some St Peter’s folk mentioned a ritual, wherein from time to time they put pen to paper in asking God for things that they want or need.

Glo took the time to share this beautiful prayer that she wrote:

Every day…

As the water runs

into my elephant water can

then through the spout

as I water the plants on my window cill,

watching the seeds grow to cotyledons

then green young shoots to plants

growing taller every day, thank you God.

I look up and out

visiting birds big and small

feeding from the feeder stand

enjoying their favourites blend

the fledgelings grow stronger every day

chirping young siblings, then find mate.

I sit with my morning coffee and admire

nature right in front of me, thank you God.

A sparrow hawk came to visit one day

swooping at a fledgling and a pigeon.

A tortoiseshell butterfly keeping me company

as I garden, sunning itself on the ground.

Sunrise, sunset, thank you God.

4. Which areas of your daily life do you find it hardest to let God’s light into?

This questioned prompted a range of personal answers:

  • When I have household chores to do (especially when it’s not my mess)
  • When things get broken
  • When I’m angry, I will find myself shouting at God (which is still a prayer)
  • When I become aware of an area that I need to work on in my personal life
  • When I need to forgive but don’t feel the other person is sorry
  • When life feels unfair, especially when I’ve been trying so hard to get it right. Repeated frustrations can make me resentful towards God.

5. Has someone ever prayed for you in a way which has changed how you understand prayer?

I loved reading this example:

“Now I am old (!) I appreciate the Bishop’s prayer at my Confirmation. The person with whom I was Confirmed 57 years ago recently wrote to me again. She is still active in the church and community. The prayer was about continuing God’s for ever and daily increasing more and more in his love until we come to his everlasting kingdom. It shows me that a blessing can be active and dynamic.”

The same lady also mentioned that asking for help and praying in groups in a prayer meeting has enlarged her view of prayer.

“Good wishes, David Stevenson [You can quote me by name if you wish].” What an example of how meaningful prayer and blessing does not always have to be complicated.

I personally enjoyed the honesty of the answers I received, including from one lady who continues to work through her own beliefs around somewhat controversial methods of prayer:

“I have been in charismatic gatherings where someone with a spiritual gift has laid hands on me and/or prayed in tongues, including a ‘Toronto Blessing’ meeting. This type of praying was quite new to me, and I had not known till then that this what some churches did; nor that some people close to me found natural and easy.

This did teach me a new way of looking at prayer, but I would have to say that it had no effect of the type that many experience in these settings. Nor did I ever feel that I was gifted in this way.

I am not against it per se, but I am uneasy when the vulnerable and suggestible are involved…”

Various individuals were listed including Clergy, Godparents, friends and parents, all of whom had made prayer a little more meaningful for the St Peter’s congregation.

This pandemic poses a major challenge to our ongoing finances. If you are able to help by contributing financially to aid the continuation of the work of God in St Peter’s, we would be enormously grateful. Please click here for more information or donate to St Peter’s: http://stpetersedinburgh.org/giving-to-st-peters

SEC Services: This week’s morning Eucharist from the SEC will be led the Rt Rev Kevin Pearson, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway. Bishop Kevin will be joined digitally by the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Anne Jones and Robert Mawditt from the Cathedral, and Marion Noble from St Andrew’s, Ardrossan. https://www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship/