Letter from John Woodhouse

Dear friends,

I am very conscious that thinking about praying (as we have been doing in these letters for some time) can be awkward. Prayer is hard work. Few of us think we are “good” at it. That is why we must be urged to be “constant”, to “keep alert with all perseverance” and to “continue steadfastly” in prayer (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2). The problem is that our thoughts are not naturally or easily directed to God. Everyone who prays finds that their minds easily wander to many different things. It takes an effort to concentrate on praying to God.

How strange we sinners are! We are invited to make our requests to our heavenly Father, who cares for us. We are promised that he will hear our prayers. And yet almost anything can distract us from praying.

This may be why the Bible often uses expressions like “lift up” in connection with prayer. “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psalm 25:1). To pray we must raise our thoughts above ourselves and the world around us to the Lord of heaven and earth. This we find astonishingly difficult to do.

The spiritually lazy therefore do not pray. Too often that’s me! It is so much easier to be busy than to pray. In spiritual terms some of the busiest people are the laziest. If we will not pray, we are shirking the most arduous work.

And yet I encourage you to join in this strenuous labour. It is only possible because of the grace and kindness of God towards us in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who “helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). These wonders, however, make our self centred laziness in not praying inexcusable. Our world needs us to pray. Our nation needs us to pray. Our church and our families need us to pray. And each one of us needs to pray. Why? Because we are all profoundly dependent on the kindness of God for everything.

Your brother in Christ

John Woodhouse
Acting Senior Minister