Remembering is critical to praying.
We remember life’s struggles. We remember life’s joys. We remember what God promises to do and what God has done throughout time. We remember God’s many gifts to us and to the whole world.
Remembering shapes our prayer.
And Praying shapes our memory.
In order to pray we must remember that for which we intend to pray: People and their stories, their longings and their joys; God’s creation and its well-being; Nations and the need for healing; Houses of worship and the hope of restoration to unity.
We remember, and then we pray.
We also remember that God speaks, and that when God speaks, God acts. Our prayers would be in vain if this were not true.
We remember that God is always with us in times of need and for us in times of trouble. We remember that God rescues people. We remember that God heals. We remember that God creates, even creates joy from sorrow, something from nothing, life from death.
Most of all, we remember that God gives prayer itself as a gift. A gift of solace and comfort. A gift of presence and assurance. A gift voice and hope. Sometimes God’s gift is not a prayer formed of words but, as Saint Paul writes, “a sigh to deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
God gives us the gift of prayer, gives us the gift of prayer to use.
Our prayer may be a prayer of wonder at what God is doing, how God is making and keeping promises. In this way prayer is used as praise.
Our prayer may be a prayer of contrition, admitting that we are not living by and for God’s love. In this way our prayer is used as confession.
Our prayer may be a prayer of gratitude to God for all God does. In this way our prayer is used as thanksgiving.
Our prayer may be a prayer of petition, asking God to do what God has done before. In this way our prayer is used as supplication.
Whatever the characteristic, prayer drives us to God. And God both hears and responds.
Experiencing God’s response to prayer may be immediate. It may also take discernment. Discernment may include meditation. Discernment may include struggle.
Discernment need not be done alone. God gives us one another to support each other, care for each other, rejoice with each other. Whether prayers are prayed in private or prayed in public, they are lived in community.
While sharing prayer in community is nothing new, it is renewing. Some of the earliest accounts of Christian community report that newly baptized persons immediately took up the practices their sisters and brothers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
At Saint Peter’s Church, everyone is welcome to offer their voices in prayer.