Letter from John Woodhouse – 31 May

Dear Friends,

I am delighted that David Robertson is sharing in writing these weekly letters to you all. If you missed last week’s letter from David, with its very encouraging material, do check it out here. We look forward to David’s letter next week.
This week I would like to continue to think with you about the wonderful privilege and responsibility of praying.
I suspect that that is not how we often think about praying. We might see it as a neglected duty, or a necessary discipline, perhaps just something we find difficult.
But praying is both a privilege and a responsibility.
On the one hand, praying is a gift to be received with thanks. On the other hand, it is a task to be done faithfully.
Consider the gift of praying. It is expressed in the well-known song:
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Think about that. Everything that is on your heart — every anxiety, every fear, every longing—can be carried to Almighty God in prayer. What a privilege!
This privilege is ours because of Jesus. As the same song puts it:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.

Christian prayer is not a spiritual exercise to make us feel better, nor is it a burdensome duty we must perform to keep God on our side. Praying is a response to God’s gracious call: “Come to me” (see Isaiah 55:3; John 7:37). Praying is casting “all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Christian prayer is the prayer of faith — the response of one who trusts in their heavenly Father who “knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Praying is a gift because the One to whom we pray graciously invites us to do it.
Consider, then, the task of praying.
God’s gifts are not imposed on us in a way that does away with our personal responsibility. The grace of God calls for a response. Those who know the kindness of our heavenly Father must deliberately put their trust in him, rather than in anyone or anything else. And trusting God involves letting our requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). It’s what you do when you trust God.
Let us today remember the gift of prayer, and get on with the task of praying.

John Woodhouse (Acting Senior Minister)