March 2015

A Letter from your Lay Minister

Dear Friends,

Just before I began to write this article, I received an email from Gwen, to say that the priest who had been offered the position of Priest in Charge of Christ Church Freemantle had accepted the offer. At the time of writing I have no further information as to the person appointed or how soon he or she will be able to begin ministry in our Parish. However I am sure that we will all receive further information as soon as it becomes public knowledge. One thing I can tell you is that all the candidates were very pleasant and able people and any of them would have made a very suitable Priest for our Parish.

That information came as a great relief to me! Just knowing that an appointment had been made and accepted, and that the end of the vacancy was in sight was a wonderful answer to prayer. Even though it may be a while before we have a name for our new Priest in Charge, please remember him or her in your prayers as he or she prepares to join us in Freemantle. Preparing for a new job, or a career change is never easy and our new priest will need all our prayer and support both now and after he or she joins us.

I wonder if sometimes we underestimate the power of prayer and the important part prayer plays in the lives of all Christians. We all lead busy lives and sometimes it is very difficult to find time for prayer. I remember someone I trained with said that he used to pray while he was driving to work each morning. He had a forty minute drive each morning and he could think of no better way of filling that time other than in prayer. I have tried it a few times and I think it can work if your drive to work is on quieter roads, but trying to pray while driving down Bassett Avenue, at 8.00 a.m. each morning is probably not a good idea!! Some of you may remember Bishop Jonathanís advice when he visited us about a year ago. He suggested using those few minutes before breakfast, while the kettle is boiling, to pray. I find that the first few minutes when I get to the office and my computer is booting up can be just as useful for prayer. Some people may pray in the bath or in the shower, others while they are taking the dog for a walk. I like silence and stillness for prayer, but others I know pray with music in the background or while listening to the radio. The way in which we like to pray is very personal and there are no right or wrong answers.

How we structure our prayer is also very personal, although I would suggest that some kind of structure is important. I have come across people who use a prayer note book. They jot down the things they want to pray about as a sort of aide memoire. Some like to use prayers from books, others like to be more spontaneous in what they say in their prayers although some structure may still be helpful. Praying through scripture or psalms can be helpful to some, and many find Spirit led prayer quite rewarding. Spirit led prayer can take many forms, but for many it is really just asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in prayer. This may often lead people to pray about things which they may never have thought important or relevant, but those things may be what God wants us to pray about, rather than what we think he wants to hear!!

As children we were probably taught to say our prayers before we went to bed. Personally I donít think that that is a very good idea. I am sure that when I have tried it I have just fallen asleep. It is really best if we can pray at different times of the day - early morning, midday, early evening and perhaps later evening for those who can stay awake. Again, when we pray is something personal, but a few short periods in prayer may be just as good as one longer period, and may be easier to fit into a busy life.

The fact that our prayers for a new priest have been heard, clearly shows that however the people of Freemantle go about their daily prayers, those prayers have been and are being answered. That does not mean that you can now stop praying for our new Priest. He or she will need all your prayers for a long time yet, but remember that we also need to pray that we may be prepared to welcome and support our new Priest in Charge when he or she arrives and to continue to support him or her throughout his or her ministry with us.

With many blessings to you all,

Malcolm Harper