Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends,

Prayer is talking to God.

It is therefore as simple and as difficult as faith in God. Trust in God is what human beings were made for. There is nothing more ‘natural’ to a human being, no greater joy, nothing that is better for us, than to trust our Maker. And yet, sinners that we are, nothing is more unnatural to us than to trust and give thanks to God.

In precisely the same way talking to God is the most fitting thing for a human being to do. It corresponds to our nature. It is a pleasant thing to do. What could be more enjoyable than speaking to our Father in heaven, who cares for us, and is infinitely good? And yet, sinners that we are, nothing is more against our usual ways than praying.

What makes talking to God so wonderful and so difficult for us is the “to God” part. Prayer, if it is true prayer, means turning our hearts and our minds towards God. It takes an effort on our part to avoid distractions. We suffer this paradox: while there can be no greater joy and satisfaction than giving our attention wholeheartedly to God, there is nothing from which we are more easily diverted. The most trivial thing can seem, at that moment, more urgent or more interesting than God!

That is why reading God’s Word when we pray is so helpful. The Word of God lifts our minds to the One who speaks his Word to us.

However, this does not mean detaching ourselves from the cares and anxieties of life, or from the needs of the world around us. Indeed these are the very things that stir us to pray. Life reminds us constantly that we are weak, wicked and foolish. We need to pray, because we need God. We need God because we need his power, his goodness and his wisdom. We do not escape from the world when we pray, but in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we speak to God: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”

Your brother in Christ

John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister