Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, March 01, 2013

"Private" Prayer

“Private” Prayer and Meditation
Last week we gave instructions about how to pray the Holy Communion Service, and in the past how to pray the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer.  Today we will talk about “private” prayer and meditation.
Although it is called “private” prayer, because we do it alone, in fact no prayer is “private”.  All prayer is joined together with other’s prayers for the same intentions.  God hears each prayer individually, yet we know that even if we are kneeling down at the side of our bed or sitting quietly in a chair in our living room, those prayers are being joined to the great assembly of saints on earth and in heaven.
Fr. Martin Thornton, the late great writer about English Spirituality, said that our prayer lives have to be Trinitarian in nature.  In other words, it has to be balanced and equal, just as the Persons of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) are equal.  He even assigns a Person of the Trinity to each type of prayer.
The Daily Office is like God the Father, with its great orderliness.  The Holy Communion is Jesus Christ Himself.  And Private Prayer is the Holy Ghost – giving some freedom and empowering that freedom in prayer to be directed to the Father, through the Son.
If we are “All Daily Office” at the expense of the other two, we risk becoming rigid or stale in our prayer life.  If we are “All Holy Communion” we risk missing out on the bigger picture of what Jesus’ saving act was for.  If we are “All Personal Prayer” we risk become too self-centered and self-indulgent in our prayer life, just as a charismatic who is only concentrated on the Holy Ghost is apt to be lead off on tangents that lead to personal regard for some, and rejection of other Church doctrines.
There are many types of prayer that many Western Christians have felt helpful.  But best of all is to just start praying by speaking to our Heavenly Father as you would someone who loves you.  After all – He does!