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Prayer... Loud and Quiet

Yesterday evening I attended the half-yearly gathering of Baptists from Glasgow to pray with and for each other.  It is a curious event, a very Baptist event, in so much as there is no set formula, no certainty that this time will like last time or next time.  It is one of those events where the host church will be well represented and, typically, there will be two or three from the other churches.  Last night there were, overall, less people than the last time I was able to attend, due in part to the secession of one church from the Union :-( .  For me, the style was not especially conducive to prayer but for others I am sure it was superb.  However, what did impress me was a clear focus to pray not for ourselves but for the city in which we are called to serve.  Various statistics about the city were presented to us - the low life expectancy in the east, comparable with some of the world's poorest nations (and parts of Yorkshire!), the fact that unemployment has doubled in two years - which provided a helpful starting point for our prayers.  Whilst I cringed at some of the prayers that God would 'bless the Christians' (ie over against those who are not) it was really good to pray about real issues affecting real people.  Due to some less than ideal planning, people were told they'd be prayed for and then weren't, which I found a bit embarrassing, but it was good that some unemployed people were prayed with/for, and at least we were made aware of those who work as prison chaplains, youth workers and street pastors.  It was a noisy event, these things often are, and sometimes we judge events by their volume rather than their content (if that makes sense).  Last night was, if not entirely to my taste (and I enjoy exuberant worship, so it's not noise per se I dislike) was overall a good event, with some earnest prayer and genuine hints at a shared love for this city.

This morning I sat in the stillness of my office and 'did' Pray As You Go (PAYG).  The music was calm and calming, the words gentle and leisurely.  The feel was utterly different.  Rather than intercession this was private prayer focusing on a personal relationship with God.  I loved the music they used and will be looking to purchase it - it seems to come from an Album called Sacred Dance by Keith Duke*, but the details on PAYG don't match what was played!  Far fewer words in the private prayer, more space for stillness and silence... and less to write about it.  Yet in its way every bit as authentic or inauthentic as its loud, corporate counterpart.  For me, just now, this style suited better, giving me time to open my heart to God honestly and humbly rather than making a lot of noise and risking babbling (as at least one of my prayers last night very clearly was!)

* A bit more research and I have tracked it down... it was track 2 on the album Sacred Weave, 'You, Lord, Are In This Place'.  Both albums are available from Eden Books

Two little things to close...

First, it really annoys me when people lead public prayer and begin "yes 'n' Father God..."  even more, I think, than 'really, just' which we all do despite our best efforts not to!

Secondly, here is a you tube clip of another track by Keith Duke which I find rather lovely:

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