My remit for the preparation for the prayer space and stations this week was to focus on the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Hallowed be your name’. I was moved by Pippa’s conversation last week about God being our Father and as such being available and attentive. Could it be that Jesus was just saying the Father needs to be approached as Father? We need first of all to encounter him as a father. I have heard that suggested and I wonder whether us seeing him as Father is the gateway to seeing the other names that have been used over the millennia to describe him and as ways of worshipping him.
The first prayer station
Some names of God
Look at the names of God that have been printed here. You may know of some others which have special meaning for you. If you would like to, make a finger or thumb print on one or more which you feel may have significance for you or as a sign that you are reaching out to him and are taking him at his word.
You may like to bring one of the pictures of feet (going places), heart (loving, caring, hurting) or brain (thought, mental life, mind-set) to lay down here or offer to God.
The first prayer station focuses on some of God’s names. It may seem offensive to some of us to use names which imply that his whole purpose is to pander to our needs. But I believe that he so strongly desires our closeness to himself that he takes care of us. He has provided for us in so many ways and that provision points to his longing for us to encounter him; to see him and to know that he is good, loving, powerful, majestic, merciful, One, True, God.
The second prayer station
Encountering God’s holiness
God told Moses to take off his sandals. Moses encountered God there and his skin came into contact with the holy ground.
Consider whether there are any aspects of you that God would like to touch with his holiness. Take a picture as a symbol and a sign of your willingness to encounter God.
Remember that God made you and loves every part of you.
The prayer of St Patrick can be an invitation to Jesus to come in to every part of our being and engagement with our surroundings:
St Patrick’s Prayer
I arise today through the strength of heaven…
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise.
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me.
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.
Christ in every eye that sees me.
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush speaks to me of the imperative need of Moses to make physical contact with God’s holiness. This had such an impact on Moses as time went on, that it’s talked about by Paul. It was obvious to those looking at Moses after his encounter that he had been in God’s presence. I believe that it’s still true today that if we spend time in encounter with God, the world around us will notice. The second prayer station was, in a sense, offering that invitation to encounter God in those areas of life that are really very important to us and where at times there seem to be so many wounds or struggles. The invitation to him to touch those areas of our lives is really, I believe, Hallowing God’s name. We’re taking him at his word.
I feel that we have a strong tendency to get up and rush off to do some good or to help someone in need as soon as we hear the words, ‘God is love’. We long to bring God’s love to the world in specific ways. I believe that we absolutely should be sharing God’s love with the people and the world around us. I also believe that we should really come to those people, offering out of overflow rather than rushing out as soon as we have a thimbleful to offer. We’re all different: some of us are planners and runners of things, others are fixers and others are stayers and listeners. So often the stayers and listeners are seen as lazy, inward looking, too heavenly minded to be any earthly use. We all need to be willing to receive before we give and sometimes we start to give as a result of perceived need rather than at the direction of our King with the resources that he provides.
The third prayer station
Praying for the Parish
As we think about praying that God’s kingdom will come, and his will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, you may feel led to bring one or more aspects of life, or geographical areas in the parish to God.
There are some blessings to use or you may want to write your own prayer (to keep personal or leave so others can agree with you).
The third prayer station is a place of considering how to bring the Kingdom of God to our community and to the parish. I believe that we can offer so much just by speaking God’s word over a place or the people who live there. God’s word is powerful and as we speak our desire for the truth to be manifested over the people who need our prayer and who so desperately need his presence, we will go on to have much more specific ideas of what to do and say and of how we can see the Kingdom of God come and his will be done here on earth (in Onslow Village!!) as it is in Heaven. If we sow liberally, there is more likely to be a great harvest.
The fourth prayer station
As we think about God’s holiness let’s take some time to worship him. There are some prayers of worship to read and pray or you may prefer to be silent.
Stay in the moment and gaze on God’s holiness, and be aware of his gaze towards you as you look to him.
Know that he loves you.
The fourth prayer station is a place of worship. I wanted there to be a place of gazing on God and just responding to him in worship. I wonder if this should really be the beginning point rather than the ending – or whether it should be the beginning and the ending! We start with worship and we end with worship.
Great and marvellous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.
My heart’s desire has been to focus on encounter with God. We can’t help but hallow his name when we see him face to face. The three stories I stuck on the wall are three encounters in which Moses, Isaiah and John were given jobs to do. The encounters were overwhelming. We should expect nothing less. God is gentle and he doesn’t overstep the mark with us. He gives us the courtesy of waiting for an invitation.
‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.’ Revelation 3:20. This is so often quoted in the context of evangelism but Jesus was actually talking to a church. We receive such an invitation. We can have many reasons for hesitating in our response. I have the impression that there is no such thing as a group RSVP with respect to our response to God. He is interested in each one of us personally and he shows his love to us in very personal ways if we stay still long enough for him to touch us! The world (however we interpret that) so needs us to be ones who have encountered Jesus.
‘Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Hebrews 4:16-16.
Such a God – Father Son Holy Spirit!
Note: Noeleen also played some beautiful music as she led our prayer service on Tuesday:
Both are stunning!