Faith is the primary element of any religious practice and for Christianity and other theological traditions, prayer is the backbone of faith. Sometimes, however, prayer comes ahead of belief through the longing to have the kind of faith observed in others, as with Paul’s jailer. It has been said that the mere desire to have faith is, in itself, an expression of faith. Tentative exploration of prayer may also occur in the search for the meaning of grief at an age when the onset of mortality becomes one’s reality.
Without faith, “christian” becomes a mere empty label. Yet without sincere and frequent prayer, faith itself is unfulfilled; it has limited direction and action. The whole of John 17 is Jesus' prayer before he leaves the disciples to carry on without him, but it isn't just about himself or the disciples at hand. It is also about us. Jesus speaks of those who will believe in me through their [and our] word.
Now, as this Easter season is ending, it is an excellent time for me to examine the state of my faith and, particularly, how I pray. Do I simply repeat familiar syllables in the liturgical rituals and memorized formal prayers, is prayer only when I want something? How do I thoughtfully, and intentionally make time to truly and sincerely pray in faith to build my relationship with God? Even during desert times when God feels absent, I must remember that prayer can keep me connected to God in Christ and the Holy Spirit who are already and always within me.
There are innumerable volumes of books written on various forms and schools of prayer and many are worth exploring. If prayer seems difficult at times, a simple way to begin is just to have an everyday kind of conversation with God as one might take comfort with and confide in a close confidante. God is the Person who knows us better than we know ourselves. There are no right or special words, no correct procedures, just ordinary words in sincerity and faith, even if we think sometimes that our faith is wavering or weak. A plain, quiet help me, Lord can open our hearts and our souls, to the experience of faith even smaller than a mustard seed and we will be heard.
Leader: ~ O Savior Christ, You are the bright morning star of Creation, loved from before the world was founded. Draw us into the prayer of faith that binds us to You and to each other, to all be as one, complete in the eternal love of God.
~ O Savior Christ, strengthen us to use the words You have given us to fill the hearts of those who lead this and all nations, for all the people of this Earth, to ensure justice, peace, and the basic necessities of human life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
The Celebrant adds: Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, as the Word made Flesh You are in God, with God, and of God. Quench our spiritual thirst with the water of eternal life that we may see Your glory, and live forever in You as You live within us. We ask through the Holy Spirit, the Mother of Wisdom; and the Almighty Creator who together with You are One God, now and through eternity. Amen.