Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thy Kingdom Come but often it feels so far away!



Prayer: Your Kingdom Come


May your Kingdom come soon. 

May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10


The Kingdom of God is at hand – You proclaimed it, Jesus;

   But, it often feels like it’s a million miles away.

You demonstrated its grace and showed its power,

   but the signs often appear faded or absent in our world.


We need Your Kingdom to come, O God,

   in all its fullness, in all its glory;

This waiting, this “now and not yet” experience of Your reign

   is hard and frustrating.


And so we pray for Your Kingdom to be revealed in our lives,

   turning our sickness and sin, our brokenness and fear

   into friendship and compassion, wholeness and joy.

May Your Kingdom come to us now.


We pray for Your Kingdom to be revealed in our neighbourhoods,

   turning our division and suspicion, our judgement and our competition

   into fellowship and care, compassion and service.

May Your Kingdom come to us now.


We pray for Your Kingdom to be revealed in our world,

   turning our war and our disparities, our consumption and our self-interest

   into peace and collaboration, stewardship and reverence.

May Your Kingdom come to us now.


Your Kingdom is here, and it is coming, O God.

Make us faithful heralds of its message

   and tireless practitioners of its ways.

For Jesus sake. Amen

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Ascension time


Lord of life, 
We do not know the future,

any more than your disciples did. 

Like them, we have many questions:
how to live 
how to bear witness. 

Like them, we thirst for the spring waters of the Spirit 
to inspire us in our living 
to give us a heart language in all we say and do.


You have been raised in glory

that we might rise with dignity. 
You live in power

that we might live in peace. 
You are present everywhere

that we might be fully present in our own lives. 

This we believe 
As we step out in faith. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How to Pray

The Transcript of Radio 4 Sunday Service May 9th Archbishop Stephen Cottrell

REFLECTION 1 – What is prayer and how do I start? By Hannah Betteridge, Belfrey intern

For me prayer has always been a part of my life, and it’s now part of my morning routine and it helps me to start the day off right by talking to God.
When you start a relationship with anyone I think many would agree that conversation is very important and that’s just the same with our relationship with God. I’ve been familiar with a style of prayer, , where I would start with thankfulness and praising him for things that have past, then say sorry for things that I am doing wrong, and finish with bringing my sadness and asking him for help in situations to come.   Prayer can often be over complicated by adding in lots of long words but you can keep it simple and at the end of the day God simply rejoices when he hears your voice calling out to him.
I love this quotation, ‘God calls out to every human heart and longs to make a home in every human heart. But God waits for us to respond’. It reminds me of when I was younger I remember singing a song called ‘Prayer is like a Telephone’ and when you speak to someone on a telephone you have to actually pick it up. And in the days when corded telephones were more commonly used, you would have to make time for that person as you couldn’t really move anywhere or do anything else while talking to them. And that's exactly what prayer is like: finding a time to talk to and ‘offer God your thoughts, even your distractions and anxieties’.

REFLECTION 2 – How to build prayer into everyday life Frances Simon

Journaling…Journaling helps me to immediately connect with God and has been a favourite go to over the years. I keep a pen and paper by my bed and note down how I am feeling.  It usually starts with praise and then gets down to the nitty gritty.
My last entry was just 10 lines long and then I whizzed into my busy day and left the overflow of my heart with my God on the pages of my Journal. God always listens and is always there.  My refuge who I turn to, a very present help in trouble where I feel safe.
Through Journaling God becomes near and as the scriptures say, draw close to God and he will draw close to you. By having my notebook by my bedside, I am drawing him close.  I am the bride he is the bridegroom.  Through Journaling I am journeying with God. (1 minute 15 secs)  
God is my refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

1  Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness;  you set me at liberty when I was in trouble;      have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

2  How long will you nobles dishonour my glory;    how long will you love vain things and seek after falsehood?

3  But know that the Lord has shown me his marvellous kindness;    when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.

4  Stand in awe, and sin not;    commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.

5  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness    and put your trust in the Lord.

6  There are many that say, ‘Who will show us any good?’    Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.

7  You have put gladness in my heart,    more than when their corn and wine and oil increase.

8  In peace I will lie down and sleep,    for it is you Lord, only, who make me dwell in safety.

REFLECTION 3 – How to pray when prayer seems impossible. The Revd Anne Richards
The world was preparing for Christmas, and I was two hundred miles from home, in a hospice, at my Mum’s bedside.  After 2 years of bravely living with an incurable rare cancer, Mum was dying. Advent waiting took on a whole new meaning. Words often failed me, so prayer became a silent vigil.  A beautiful playlist held us together as family – and especially soothed Mum, as we took it in turns to hold her hand. A borrowed nativity scene illuminated by battery-operated tea-lights reminded us of Christ’s light, present with us in our suffering. My solitary walk to and from the hospice was often accompanied by words from the Psalms which bubbled up. Inwardly, I would gently repeat them over and over. They somehow gave expression to my heart’s cry and brought me comfort. My journal was a listening friend, where I wrote things exactly as they were – thoughts and prayers that questioned God and tried to make sense of our circumstances. ‘How long O Lord?’ Sometimes tears were my only prayer, as the agonising, wearying, ache of grief overwhelmed me, especially during long sleepless nights, spent in the solitude of my friend’s spare bedroom.  The prayers and compassion of the church, friends near and far, reassured us that we were surrounded by God’s love, regardless of our capacity to pray or worship.   In the depths of grief, prayer certainly felt impossible to put into words, yet it became something deeper and holier than I’ve ever known. In the words of Psalm 120,  ‘in my distress I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me’. God, through the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, was surprisingly close.


Luke. (11.1-13) Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name.   Your kingdom come.   Give us each day our daily bread.   And forgive us our sins,     for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.   And do not bring us to the time of trial.’ And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
This is the word of the Lord. All Thanks be to God.

The prayer that Jesus taught his friends is the heart and pattern of all Christian prayer.
The first two words may be the most significant: Our Father. God is a loving parent – father and mother. Jesus himself called God Abba, meaning Dad. This is the intimacy we have with God. And even though some people have had damaging experiences of family, and parents have let them down, by using this word, Jesus says that relationship with God can heal and restore all relationships and that we, too, can dwell close to the Father’s heart. Then, please note, it isn’t my Father, but our Father. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that praying is something we do together – even when we’re on our own! Whole books could be written about these two words and the revolutionary change they bring to our relationship with God and our relationships with each other, and, therefore, to the meaning of prayer which is, first of all, to dwell intimately in relationship with the God who loves us and comes to us in Jesus. In Jesus we have access to God. We can bring God everything.
As for the rest of the Lord’s Prayer, well there’s hardly time here to say much more, but after these opening words the great Anglican theologian, Austin Farrar, described the Lord’s Prayer as ‘three hearty praises followed by three humble petitions.’ These six phrases show us what our life and what our prayer should be. 
First, we praise: hallowed be your name. With our unveiled faces, we gaze upon the beauty of God. We come into God’s presence. We are transformed We seek God’s kingdom on Earth. We hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness and peace. We ask that God’s will be done in our lives and in the life of the world. We take sides with the poor and the oppressed. We’re not trying to change God’s mind. We’re asking God to change ours! To conform our lives to that pattern of life that we see in Christ. And we do ask things for ourselves. But not the usual self-regarding wish list as if prayer were a transaction or a deal, but, first, only that God will give us our daily bread. Nothing more. Nothing less. The whole world could do with learning the radical simplicity of this prayer. Teach us what enough looks like. Save us from ourselves.
Then, mindful of our many shortcomings, not least our greed, we confess our sinfulness and seek God’s forgiveness. We learn to be merciful because we know how much we need God’s mercy ourselves.
Finally, we pray for strength to face temptation and be delivered from evil. And because God is a loving Father and Mother we offer this prayer not to one who is distant or uninterested, but to the one who has come to us in Jesus and taught us how to pray.
I think it was Therese of Lisieux who said that if you could say the Lord’s Prayer once and truly mean it, you would be in heaven. 
I’ve said this prayer many times and will almost certainly say it many times again. This goes to show that I am not yet in heaven; that heaven has not yet been builded in the earth. 

Jesus says, ‘For everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’ I invite  you now to join with me in knocking on that door in confidence that God will hear our call. 
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the words. So it’s helpful to rely on some memorable ways of bringing your concerns before God. Sometimes , we need to make prayer more physical, to express in external signs and symbols the internal longing and desires of our hearts.  The following strategy is  based on what the Dutch theologian Henri Nouwen called ‘opening up our tightly clenched fists’ to pray. 

You take your closed fist, and gradually open it up, to receive the blessings and wisdom that God longs to give each and every one of us. In this way, your hands open before God, your hand itself can be a basic pattern and reminder of how to pray.

So I hold my clenched fist in front of me now.
Now stretch I out my thumb. We begin with thanksgiving – count our blessings. Thank God for today and for the good things in our lives. For Christians this includes the resurrection of Jesus who destroys death and sin.  We thank God for new life, for the hope brought by vaccines and medical care, and the relief felt by many as restrictions become more  relaxed.   


Then I stretch out my index finger. the finger we use to point. So we pray for direction in our lives, for the decisions we need to make, the things for which we are responsible. We pray for direction for the world and its people, for all those who are facing uncertainty and anguish, that they might find their path through the darkness.

I now add my middle finger. , the tallest on my hand as we pray for those who have power in the world: for our Church leaders, for the Queen and her ministers, for other governments, and for local leaders. We pray that they are guided by justice, peace and truth in their decisions and leadership.


My ring finger is the weakest finger. It can’t do much on its own. We pray for the people we  rely on: our friends and family, the people we depend on  and those that depend on us. We pray for all those in caring positions, give them the strength they need to support others. 


Lastly I stretch out my little finger and pray for those who desperately need help: the sick, the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, the bereaved and those who face violence. We remember those who have died and those who mourn. May the Resurrection bring hope to the hearts of all who suffer. And finally we lift both our hands to God in thanksgiving, and pray for our own needs.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Open your hands





Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very centre of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. Why would you really want to do that? Perhaps you would let the other cross your inner threshold to see something or to touch something, but to allow the other into that place where your most intimate life is shaped—that is dangerous and calls for defence. The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clenched fists. This image shows a tension, a desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear. A story about an elderly woman brought to a psychiatric centre exemplifies this attitude. She was wild, swinging at everything in sight, and frightening everyone so much that the doctors had to take everything away from her. But there was one small coin which she gripped in her fist and would not give up. In fact, it took two people to prise open that clenched hand. It was as though she would lose her very self along with the coin. If they deprived her of that last possession, she would have nothing more and be nothing more. That was her fear.

When you are invited to pray, you are asked to open your tightly clenched fist and give up your last coin. But who wants to do that? A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer because you discover you don’t want to let go. You hold fast to what is familiar, even if you aren’t proud of it. You find yourself saying: "That’s just how it is with me. I would like it to be different, but it can’t be now. That’s just the way it is and this is the way I’ll have to leave it." Once you talk like that, you’ve already given up believing that your life might be otherwise. You’ve already let the hope for a new life float by. Since you wouldn’t dare to put a question mark after a bit of your own experience with all its attachments, you have wrapped yourself up in the destiny of facts. You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with small, clammy coins which you don’t want to surrender.

You still feel bitter because people weren’t grateful for something you gave them: you still feel jealous of those who are better paid than you are; you still want to take revenge on someone who didn’t respect you; you are still disappointed that you’ve received no letter, still angry because someone didn’t smile when you walked by. You live through it, you live along with it as though it doesn’t really bother you...until the moment when you want to pray. Then everything returns: the bitterness, the hate, the jealousy, the disappointment, and the desire for revenge. But these feelings are not just there; you clutch them in your hands as if they were treasures you don’t want to let go. You sit wallowing in all that old sourness as if you couldn’t do without them, as if, in giving them up, you would lose your very self.

Detachment is often understood as letting loose of what is attractive. But it sometimes also requires letting go of what is repulsive. You can indeed become attached to dark forces such as resentment and hatred. As long as you seek retaliation, you cling to your own past. Sometimes it seems as though you might lose yourself along with your revenge and hate—so you stand there with balled-up fists, closed to the other who wants to heal you.

When you want to pray, then, the first question is: How do I open my closed hands? Certainly not by violence. Nor by a forced decision. Perhaps you can find your way to prayer by carefully listening to the words the angel spoke to Zechariah, Mary, the shepherds, and the women at the tomb: "Don’t be afraid." Don’t be afraid of the One who wants to enter your most intimate space and invite you to let go of what you are clinging to so anxiously. Don’t be afraid to show the clammy coin which will buy so little anyway. Don’t be afraid to offer your hate, bitterness, and disappointment to the One who is love and only love. Even if you know you have little to show, don’t be afraid to let it be seen. Often you will catch yourself wanting to receive your loving God by putting on a semblance of beauty, by holding back everything dirty and spoiled, by clearing just a little path that looks proper. But that is a fearful response—forced and artificial. Such a response exhausts you and turns your prayer into torment.

Each time you dare to let go and to surrender one of those many fears, your hand opens a little and your palms spread out in a gesture of receiving. You must be patient, of course, very patient until your hands are completely open. It is a long spiritual journey of trust, for behind each fist another one is hiding, and sometimes the process seems endless. Much has happened in your life to make all those fists and at any hour of the day or night you might find yourself clenching your fists again out of fear.

Maybe someone will say to you, "You have to forgive yourself." But that isn’t possible. What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so that the One who loves you can blow your sins away. Then the coins you considered indispensable for your life prove to be little more than light dust which a soft breeze will whirl away, leaving only a grin or a chuckle behind. Then you feel a bit of new freedom and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you. Praying then becomes effortless, inspired and lively, or peaceful and quiet. When you recognize the festive and the still moments as moments of prayer, then you gradually realize that to pray is to live.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love—
unconditional, everlasting love.

Sunday, April 25, 2021



Nerine shared this: 

Metropolitan Anthony Bloom in his book “School for Prayer” tells a story about a lady who visited him shortly after he became a priest in the Orthodox Church. She wanted his advice about prayer. For fourteen years she had been saying the Jesus prayer almost continually, she said, and had never experienced God’s presence at all. “If you speak all the time”, said Anthony, “You don’t give God a chance to get a word in”.

“What shall I do?”, she asked. Anthony advised her to go into her sitting room after breakfast, “Make sure everything is tidy and sit in a chair, light the little lamp before the icon that you have, and first of all take stock of your room. Just sit, look around, and try to see where you are. Be aware of what’s around you. Admire the objects. Be totally present. Take out your knitting and knit for about 15 minutes before the face of God, but I forbid you to say one word of prayer. You just knit, or sit still, and enjoy the peace of your room.”

Well of course she didn’t think this was very spiritual advice at the time, but some weeks later the lady returned. She was a different person. “It works!”, she told him. “I got up, washed, tidied my room, had breakfast, came back, made sure there was nothing that would worry me and settled into my armchair and thought ’ Oh how nice, I have 15 minutes in which I can do nothing without feeling guilty’ And I looked around, and for the first time in years, I thought ‘Goodness! What a lovely room I live in’. Then, she said, “I felt so quiet because the room was so peaceful. There was a clock ticking, but it didn’t disturb the silence. Its ticking just underlined the fact that everything was so still, and after a while I remembered that I must knit before the face of God. I began to knit and became more and more aware of the silence. Then I perceived that this silence was not simply the absence of noise, but that the silence had substance. It was not an absence of something, but a presence of something. The silence had a density, a richness and it began to pervade me. The silence around began to come and meet the silence within me. All of a sudden, I perceived that the silence was a presence. At the heart of the silence there was Him, who is all stillness, all peace, all poise.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Help, are you reading this?

At the very beginning of lockdown it was suggested that I might start a blog. I took up the challenge and often managed to post everyday, particularly in the  times of lockdown. I am wondering whether this blog is still interesting or useful, I would love to have your feedback and contributions, so please get in touch.   



Springtime is a season of optimism and hope,
and the Christian lives a faith centred on hope.
Winter, with its cold and dark days has gone,
just as Good Friday has passed to Easter and beyond.
We live a resurrection life
reflected in the new life springing up around us.

 Thank you, Lord, for the hope that you bring,

the renewal that you bring,
both to this world and to our hearts and lives.

Forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world,
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see,
our lips to praise,
our hands to share,
and may our feet tread lightly
on the road that, together, we travel.



                                                          oh dear!    




Sunday, April 18, 2021

Peace be With You


                                                   Photographs by Ann-Marie Parker

This is such an important phrase, let's mediate on this using the Examen. The Examen. Originally given to the Church by Ignatius of Loyola in 1548, this simple method of prayer is still used by many Christians around the world as a powerful way to connect with God. Through a few small steps, we can invite the Holy Spirit to search our inmost thoughts and speak the peace of Christ into our souls.

Our challenge this week is to pray this Prayer of Examen once per day, as a way of allowing God’s voice to speak into the last twenty-four hours of our lives. The basic steps are listed below, but feel free to experiment and adapt this practice to fit the rhythm of your everyday life. I pray that it opens our eyes to the reality that God is always at work in our lives, and that it brings us His “peace that passes all understanding.”


This prayer is simple enough to pray anywhere, but you may find it more rewarding to pray in a location where you can be alone and quiet. Silence may be a helpful tool to quiet your mind and focus your thoughts on God. Sit comfortably, with your body upright, and hands rested in your lap as a sign of your openness to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Try praying it once a day, whenever you can find the best time for uninterrupted, quiet reflection. Some people prefer the early morning hours, others prefer the quiet of bedtime, find what works for you.

When you are ready to begin, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and proceed quietly through each of these five steps.

Step 1: Presence

Take a moment to become aware of God’s presence with you. No matter how distracted or distressed you may seem, you are never separated from the presence of God. Use this time to “centre down,” or to calm the anxious thoughts of your day and simply relax in the presence of God. Breathe deeply. If you are having trouble quieting your thoughts, try repeating a simple phrase in your mind, like “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20), or “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).

Avoid the temptation to rush through this step. It’s okay if you spend your entire time trying to become still. This is an important and peace-giving discipline in itself, so try not to move on to the second step until your heart is truly at rest.

Step 2: Gratitude

Our busyness often fools us into thinking we have “earned” all that we have. Gratitude helps us see the truth: that our lives are a gracious gift of God. Remember the blessings God has graciously given you. Picture them in your mind, and give God thanks for them. As you thank God for relationships, picture their faces and let them bring you joy. Thank God for His provision, your “daily bread,” and your health.

Gratitude is a powerful prayer, despite whatever our current emotional state may be. Before you continue on with the next step, allow these prayers of thanksgiving to help calm your fears and frustrations.

Step 3: Review

Now take a moment and look back over the past twenty-four hours of your life. Think of all that has happened in the previous day; conversations, thoughts, actions, reactions. Ask God to reveal your “anxious thoughts” (Ps. 139:23). As you remember your day, pay close attention to your emotions. Where did you experience joy, peace, or love? Where did you experience pain, anxiety, worry, stress, or anger? Notice anything that is particularly strong, or anything that you would like to keep hidden in the shadows.

As you pray, take note of these emotions but try not to interpret or justify them. Allow God to simply meet you in the midst of your life, and to walk through these memories with you as a friend. Allow His love to speak peace to your soul.

Step 4: Listen

Now, remembering some of these things you have noticed in your day, simply ask God, “What are you telling me?” Then take a moment and listen. Note what you hear in the silence; perhaps a thought, word, scripture, or image. It may help to write your thoughts in a journal. Be still and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the silence, know that you are completely loved and accepted through the love of Jesus.

Step 5: Ask

Turn your attention to the future, and ask God to help you walk forward in a different way. Ask for His grace to heal the broken places in your soul. Ask Him to provide a way forward, a simple step or change you can make to live a life of peace and rest. Take a moment to write down what you have gained from this time of prayer. What needs to change in your life to help make tomorrow different than today? Ask God for His grace, which is powerful enough to make such a change, and can transform your life into the image of Jesus.


That’s it! Try praying this simple prayer once each day, and see what God says and does. I hope that just as Jesus spoke to his frightened disciples, you hear these words spoken into your soul: “Peace be with you.”