Summary: This is the 3rd Address in the four part Lenten Series on Prayer
Prayer of Rest and paradoxically Unceasing Prayer
Story: A business manager went on holiday to an island in Greece.
One day, while he was on the beach, he was called up on his mobile phone by his secretary, wanting some help.
He gave her some instructions and told her to call him back when she had finished.
As he was pacing up and down waiting for a return phone call, he came across a fisherman, dozing in the shade of his fishing boat, that had been pulled up on the beach.
As the manager passed, the fisherman woke up and the manager decided to talk to him.
“The weather is great and there’s lots of fish. So how come you are sitting about here - when you could be out there - catching more fish?”
Gently, the fisherman replied:
“Because I caught enough this morning”
“But just imagine” the manager replied “if you went out twice a day, you could bring home twice as much fish.
And do you know what could happen?
Puzzled, the fisherman shook his head.
“Well” the manager continued - waxing lyrical to his theme “you could buy yourself a motorboat.
And then, after say a couple of years you could buy a second one.
Then perhaps after three years you could have a cutter or two.
And just think, one day you might be able to buy a freezing plant.
Then you could go on to get your own helicopter to help you trace shoals of fish for your fishing fleet.
You could then buy your own truck to ship the fish to the capital thereby cutting out the middle man”
“And then what” the fisherman replied.
“And then “ the manager concluded triumphantly “ you wouldn’t have to worry.
You could then sit down calmly on the beach, dozing in the sun and looking at the beautiful ocean.”
“ Well”, replied the fisherman “What do you think I am doing now!”
This is the third study in our series on Prayer
In the first week we looked at
1. Simple Prayer and
2. Praying the Ordinary
And last week we looked at
3. The Prayer of Relinquishment
4. Formation Prayer and
And this week I would like to progress on from formation prayer to a seemingly contrary form of prayer
1. Prayer at Rest and
2. Unceasing Prayer
And the rest of “prayer at rest” is not the sort of rest either the fisherman or the business manager of our story envisage
1. Prayer at rest
This is often also referred as Sabbath prayer.
Sabbath – contrary to popular misconception is not a time when we do nothing.
It is a time when we take time out from our busy regimes
It is a time when I don’t answer the phone call about the size of gravestones or I don’t spend time preparing a talk.
It is a time when I stop thinking of faculties and getting rid of the pews.
But it isn’t doing nothing.
Rest is an activity
1.1 Prayer as Abiding
It is abiding in Christ. (John 15:1)
And our English word abiding sums it up well
We live in a society that runs in the fast lane almost all the time.
The word "Abide" runs counter current to all that.
There is tranquillity about it.
Jesus was busy - much of the time but he did take time off to draw aside and pray in the midst of a heavy schedule.
We read in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, after healing many people in a particular town:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mk. 1:35)
Can I give you an illustration about abiding?
Story: In the first year of my curacy, I went off to Oxford - bird watching at Pinkhill Reserve at Farmoor Reservoir.
Now I hasten to add, I hadn’t myself planned to go bird watching.
Maddy and I decided to go down the 25th Wedding Anniversary of good friends of ours from Oxford, Sally and Francis Prittie.
What I didn’t realise was that Francis was an avid bird watcher.
And for part of their silver wedding celebrations, he had organised a group of us to go bird watching.
I spent the week trying to find ANY excuse to get out of bird watching. But I couldn’t find a good excuse - so off bird watching I rather reluctantly went.
However, once we got to the hide on Pinkhill Reserve, I found it fascinating watching the common terns, the teal (small ducks), Canada geese with goslings, Coots and Cormorants.
And after an hour when Francis said,” let’s go” I felt like saying: What do you mean - "I want to stay!!