The Archdeacon of the East Riding, Andy Broom, writes:
Breaking the ‘Rules of Prayer’
Are there ‘rules’ for our prayer life and having a healthy life with God?
Of course, the answer to that is ‘no’ but for many people it can feel that if not ‘rules’ then there are certainly ‘strong conventions’. Some have been brought up with the ‘Daily Quiet Time’, others with Morning Prayer as an expectation, and for some saying Evening Prayer too. Some people have prayer lists, some rosary beads and others have been taught to simply sit silently and ‘be’ in the presence of God. Some follow lectionary readings, others have a daily guide for bible readings.
All of the above can be helpful in giving our life with God a shape and direction. However, as I reflect on my life with God I realise that sometimes I have struggled to adapt my prayer life because I have felt bound by my perception of these conventions and rules. Even in the last few years I’ve found myself feeling uncomfortable when I have found Morning Prayer too wordy and have shortened it; or having tried to learn to sit in silent prayer I’ve realised that I pray better walking slowly around my garden. I realise that this might tell you much about me and my personality, not everyone will necessarily have such struggles! However, I don’t think I am alone in feeling the pressure of conformity to norms and expectations. Nor the loyalty to our past and the church tradition that has formed us – for many, any movement from such a heritage can be difficult, even more so if close friends still share those assumptions and practices.
Under Living Christ’s Story the first objective is ‘Becoming More Like Christ’. This is the call upon all our lives and it is from this that our lives, ministries and activities flow. It needs to be a priority for us all. Whilst for some the shape of their life with God will remain largely unchanged over time, many others sense a need to develop their approach to God. How important it is that we know ourselves and if we sense that need to adapt and change we are not held back by a mis-placed loyalty to rules, conventions, our past or even other people.