Holidays give us the chance to do new things, go to new places, try new experiences.Whether you are getting away or not this summer, I’d like to suggest that there is a way in which all of us can make space for something new over the next few months, and that is through prayer. Prayer might not sound much like a fortnight in Majorca, but actually there’s more similarity than you might suppose. Our image of prayer is often either rather earnest and dull, the dutiful recitation of some well-worn words out of habit, or something that is reserved for dire emergencies, desperate entreaties to God when a loved one is ill or some disaster has befallen us. But prayer can be much more than that. It is a happy accident that praying and playing are almost the same word, but the best prayer is often profoundly playful, just like a good holiday, making space for new discoveries about ourselves, about the world around us, about God himself.
Prayer can be almost anything which enables us to do that. Art, craft, gardening, walking, dancing, singing, or just sitting still and letting the life of the world unfold around us; all these things and many others, can help us to see our lives with new eyes, and notice God at work in us. It can take a bit of thought and effort to get started, just as a holiday needs planning, booking, packing and preparing for. We need to make a conscious decision to take time to pray, as we do to make travel plans. There’s no guarantee, either, that all will be peace and joy when we pray, any more than we can be sure that the hotel will be as described in the brochure, or that the sun will shine non-stop. Many people find time off threatening and difficulty – they miss the busyness of work – and sometimes we avoid praying because we don’t really want to see the things that need changing in our lives either. But ultimately, just as all work and no play makes us dull people, all work and no pray impoverishes us spiritually too.
So, here are some ideas to help you get started, or try a different approach to prayer.
A leaflet to download with ideas for creative prayer
Ideas for children and the young at heart (created for our last Messy Church)
A DIY prayer book to print out and decorate, with favourite prayers for all ages.
Websites with ideas for prayer
Sacred Space - daily meditative prayer
Rochester Diocese spirituality network - events and links
Southwark Diocese spirituality - lots of resources for prayer