As a priest in the Church of England I am expected to pray every day as part of my job. Over the years I have tried many ways and methods as I have sought to make prayer central to my life, especially in my life as a priest. At the moment my practice is to spend the first part of every morning in prayer and meditation, as I seek to embrace a life that is in tune with the heartbeat of God. Getting to this point has been quite a journey as I have lived through more than a few seasons when I have found it difficult to pray at all. I guess that is all part of the learning process when it comes to praying and connecting with God.
These days I don’t say very much to God and focus more on what he might be saying to me. I suppose you could call it listening prayer or contemplative prayer, but the process is the same. It involves being still, which can be quite difficult first thing in the morning when your mind is racing through all the things that have got to be done.
Contemplative prayer for me is not about emptying the mind, rather it is about engaging in the process of seeking to still my mind before God. It’s never quite the same each day as sometimes it seems easy but on other days I find it almost impossible. Occasionally I awake praising God and conscious of his presence, often just repeating his name over and over again. But on a normal day it involves more work in self-examination, confession, spiritual reading, and waiting on him in stillness and silence. I usually conclude my prayers with a few set prayers that I have committed to memory because they remind me to seek and to do the will of God in all the affairs of the day.
I don’t believe in formulas when it comes to prayer, for me it is a relational practice because God is my friend as well as my boss. My day is always lacking and often falls well below par if I am prevented from spending my early hours of the day with God. It’s never too late to start so I would encourage you to set aside a few minutes each morning to do what God has instructed ‘to be still and know that I am God.’
Rev. Dr. Christopher Noble – Rector
St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo