After two false starts, it with relief and a certain amount of chagrin that I can say that this project is ready. Over the next two weeks, there will be a series of quotes from the book on our FaceBook page and the Home page of the Website; the series will run through Lent.
Trained as a journalist, Philip Yancey has a knack of writing books that tackle questions of faith in ways that
are readable and absorbing. This book on Prayer is no exception; we benefit from a journalist’s tenacity to get to the heart of the matter and be able to talk plainly about what they found; his years as a thinking and committed Christian mean that we find we are joining a fellow traveler on the road, rather than an expert in theory.
You can buy the book and read it, new £8/used £4.
We have some copies in the church library available to borrow.
Each day in Lent, you will be able to listen to a reading from it,
posted on FaceBook and the Website.
The book is a good read even on a busy day, each chapter is broken into 5-10 minute sections that are worthwhile in themselves – I found it helpful to read the book like that whether busy or not, it gives time to savour the thought before moving on. It is a hugely helpful book by a popular author which I find myself going back to again and again as an encouragement and help in faith as much as in prayer.
If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.
"I write about prayer as a pilgrim, not an expert. I have the same questions that occur to almost everyone at some point. Is God listening? Why should God care about me? If God knows everything, what’s the point of prayer? Why do answers to prayer seem so inconsistent, even capricious?"
"Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration,
flashes of joy and bouts of irritation.
In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter."
"Why does prayer rank so high on surveys of theoretical importance and so low on surveys of actual satisfaction? What accounts for the disparity between Luther and Simeon on their knees for several hours and the modern pray-er fidgeting in a chair after ten minutes?"
Lent is the period of forty days preparation for Easter which lasts from Ash Wednesday to the Eve of Easter Day. If you can’t make the numbers add up, it’s because Sundays in Lent are not counted as fast days. The dates change each year, but they’re given in most diaries.
In the early years of the Church, Lent was a time of final preparation for those to be baptised at Easter and for those excommunicated for serious wrongs, who wanted to be restored to the full life of the Church.
As time went on, it became clear that it would be good for all Christians to undertake this period of preparation, and so everyone joined in this season of fasting and learning.
Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We keep Lent through acts of self denial, through acts of commitment, through acts of service and generosity. Steady on! you may say, but this is exactly what the world has been doing through January - though without the same emphasis being placed on generosity and service.
In recognition of the need for justice in our world and our failure to work for it, we can give up some of the things we want in order that others can have some of the things that they need. These actions are of positive value now and a sign of our willingness to change the way we live our lives.
Introduction to the Mass for Ash Wednesday
Brothers and sisters in Christ: since the early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.
At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church’s fellowship from which they had been separated through sin.
In course of time the Church came to recognise that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.
40 Days can be Life Changing
It’s a curious thing to find that in another area of faith, the world may be catching up with the church. 40 days is a good time distance for establishing or removing a habit. It is NOT that you are successful every day, it’s that you dust yourself off and go right back to it, and over 40 days establish that change you need.
Notice how the world is subscribing to the principles of Lent—it’s just moved it around a bit and renamed it: dry January, vegan-uary! For centuries, for reasons of care, health, and faith, Christians have kept Lent as a time of growth, self-denial and generosity - establishing habits that last a lifetime and make a difference.
What will you start Ash Wednesday, 17 February?