The Minister writes

'Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door

and pray to your Father who is in secret’

Matthew 6:6

Dear All,

Here in Matthew 6, Jesus teaches on the importance of setting aside time for quiet prayer and devotion, time for our relationship with God.  The Gospels appear to show that this is how Jesus himself lived, often withdrawing from crowds and followers and making time and space to connect with God.  For Jesus, I imagine that these moments of encounter with God were vital to the bond that he enjoyed with God and they no doubt gave him the strength, faith and courage he needed to stay true to his calling. 

 

I wonder, how do we feel about this?  Encouraged or disheartened?  In all honesty, perhaps the trouble is that for a host of reasons, many of us, and I’m included myself here, sometimes find personal devotions difficult.  Perhaps, it’s a question of time, so much to do and so little time to do it.  Or maybe we find ourselves lost for words and struggling to express ourselves honestly.  Some of us might speak with candour and say that it is a question of commitment and priorities.  For different reasons, time for personal devotions, in whatever shape we tend to find most fruitful, can fall by the wayside.

So should we feel guilty about this?  I believe the answer is emphatically 'no!'  I think that God remains ‘open armed’ towards us, reminds us of his unfailing love and waits for us to nurture our side of the relationship.  Also, we remember that devotions are not the only way in which we experience God.  And anyway, these words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel should actually give us great encouragement, for underlying them is the assurance that God is always there, near to us, surrounding us and waiting to meet with us when we reach out to him.  Lent will commence later on this month.  During the season of Lent this year, may I encourage you to make time for God in some way and for regaining your sense of his presence.  God is with you now as he is with you always.  As you set aside a few moments, I trust that you will draw closer to God and sense afresh his grace and strength for your life of discipleship and service.

I close with Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message’ translation of Matthew 6:6:

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded space so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense God’s grace.

I pray this will be so for you. 

Grace and peace,

               :  Andrew's signature