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Do we chat or pray to God?

I was corrected at a meeting that I was chairing recently when I said, “Enough Guys”. It was pointed out to me that I was the only “Guy” present. This was quite a formal meeting, and my intervention wasn’t appropriate.

After the meeting, I was giving thanks for a successful outcome and got thinking - how do I greet God? Am I, casual, informal or formal, what is the balance, and does it matter? In my life is God just a deity I pray to or is he the most important mate I have valuable chats with?

St. Benedict believed that prayer plays an essential role in our daily lives and on the path to Heaven.

Orare est Laborare, Laborare est Orare — to pray is to work, to work is to pray.

In the Lay Community we have a variety of opportunities to pray and spend time with God both collectively and individually.

  • The “offices” three times a day during the week.

  • Contemplative prayer in community, entirely silent, twice a day.

  • Lectio Divina.

  • Sunday evening services run by community members.

  • Early Morning Prayers for early risers: community members lead us in reflection on our life as Christians and Benedictines.

These are rich opportunities to pray. But is that enough? Benedict suggests it isn’t –

Before you begin any work, invoke God's heavenly assistance.

Good advice but what do I do to invoke that assistance?

If God is at the core of my life, do I chat with God as I would with family and friends and, if so, what form does it take? I know I thank God for something that has happened. But do I notice when God thanks me? I am sure he does. God is always ready to talk with us. Are we hearing God?

From the Bible it is easy to think that God talks directly only to prophets and apostles; like Isaiah, Samuel, the Apostles, and Paul. Samuel is interesting because he didn’t realise it was God calling. Maybe we are like him. Do we recognise when God is calling us and wants a quiet chat about our behaviour or the task at hand?

How do we greet or start a conversation with God? At a recent Sunday evening prayer, we were told that there is no word for hello in one of the languages of Papua New Guinea. They say, “You are here” and the person replies “Yes I am.” I think this is a brilliant way of starting a conversation. To remember God is always there no matter time, place or our mindset.

It reminds me of a 1974 book, ‘Mister God This is Anna’. She really knew how to start a conversation and what to say after the greeting. She had the “You are here” and “Yes I am” relationship with God and, for her, prayer was a chat and chat was prayer because she was speaking to and with her God.

It reminds me about Jesus and his approach to people and how people felt able to approach him. In our Community Prayer we say. “Guide me by the wisdom of you living word.”

So, Hi God, You are here, want to chat? I know you have time and I need some wisdom.

Peter Firkin

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