Prayer Blog 1st – 7th February 2025

Splendour in the Ordinary

Last time we heard how John Calvin referred to the beautiful creation as ‘the theatre of God’s Glory’. Everything is created and, according to Eugene Peterson, ‘we take box seats in this creation theatre when we pray.’[1] The majesty and beauty of creation can move us to silence and in the silence we may hear God speak. Silence, as prerequisite, prepares us for speech to God.

Yet, consider how much of our time is taken up not outside admiring the beauty of creation but partaking in the ordinary. In his book on spiritual formation, Conformed to His Image, Kenneth Boa makes this observation:

‘The bulk of our time is spent in commonplace routines: rearing children, commuting, paperwork, phone calls, washing dishes, paying bills, pulling weeds, relating to family and friends. The reality of our faith is demonstrated more in the way we walk with Jesus in the mundane than in the number of religious meetings we attend.’[2]

One of the great things about the reformation was the way that it moved the focus of spirituality from the monastery and the academy to the individual. Luther and others realised that the bible and spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, should be for the ordinary man and woman. However, with that comes responsibility. No longer is it regarded as satisfactory to pay indulgences to have someone pray on your behalf or on behalf of your dead relatives. The responsibility to pray, to Conform to His Image, lies with every believer.

Boa goes on to explain that we are never meant to compartmentalise our lives into secular and sacred divides. Our vocation, in life, is in Christ. We are called to full time Christian service. When we invoke the name of Christ we are empowered to serve our Lord and others wherever we may be. So:

‘Begin to cultivate the skill of praying in every situation, and you will discover that prayer spiritualises all aspects of life. It sanctifies work and makes the ordinary a receptacle of the divine. Prayer also sanctifies relationships and makes us less selfish than we would ordinarily be as we interact with family, co-workers, friends, and neighbours.’[3]

Think of how you can cultivate the skill of praying in every situation in your life, not just at a prayer meeting or set times of personal devotion.

The Jesus Prayer

Last time I explained the concept of the Jesus Prayer; to quieten the mind and prepare the heart for prayer by repetition of:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

(Luke 18:38)

Having practiced this prayer, when and as required, I find it very helpful in not only quietening and preparing my mind but also for refocussing my wandering mind. In this respect it fits in well with Boa’s recommendation of cultivating the skill of praying in every situation. Whether walking down the street, or working in the office, use these words, or other short lines of scripture, to invoke the name of Jesus in every situation. Once you are focussed you can pray more specifically but remember invoking the name of Christ, bringing him to the forefront of your mind, is a step towards cultivating that skill of praying in every situation.

A final word from Boa; ‘whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). ‘This means that living in the market place is not necessarily less spiritual than living in the monastery; everything depends on the focus of your heart.[4]

[1] Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 1991), 71

[2] Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 215

[3] Boa, Conformed to His Image, 216

[4] Boa, Conformed to His Image, 215

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