Diocese of Portsmouth

“Prayer is how we find our true identity, as individuals and as the church”, Archbishop Justin Welby

What is prayer?

Prayer is meeting God – maybe entering into, and continuing in, a relationship with God.

We can’t see God. God is ‘Spirit’ – ‘God-stuff’. There’s a spark of God-stuff in us. Christians believe that human beings aren’t an accident, just here by chance. God made us, and loves us, and wants a relationship with us. He made us as whole beings, with body, mind and spirit. That’s what we mean when we use the term ‘spiritual’: it’s the bit of us we can’t see, the bit that is the deep-down real us, beyond our being and thinking; the bit that makes us tick, that drives our being and thinking. Our ‘spirituality’.

If we don’t exercise our bodies, they seize up – we become couch-potatoes. If we don’t exercise our minds, they seize up too. What about our spirits? Do we give them a chance? To get in tune with God?

Prayer is engaging with God. Just like with any other relationship, ideally we need to be relaxed, aware, attentive, invested. The spirit works best when we relax the body and still the mind. One of the ancient Bible song says ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10).

Sometimes it can seem very difficult to begin to be attentive to God, to get quiet enough to catch what God wants to say to us. Work, family, anxiety, business, things to do and remember… they all crowd out silence. We’re all different, and different things help different people. There’s no one right way to pray – you need to find out what works for you. Pray as you can, not as you can’t.

“Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself”, Mother Teresa