Jul 13, 2011

Celtic Prayer

(Joshua Clarke) SAINT DOMINIC GUZMAN
Photo by Fergal Claddagh
For over a year now I've been part of a small prayer group at my church. It's been an awesome experience, according to everyone who attends. Why more people don't come, I don't know. What we do is fairly simple. We usually read scripture, recite a prayer of confession, discuss prayer in general and how to pray, sometimes read a creed, collect prayer requests, pray aloud as we are led, and end with the Lord's Prayer.

I say "usually" because we open to whatever we feel compelled to discuss and pray about each week. Sometimes we send out cards to let people know we are praying for them.

Often I'm reminded of the Celtic monks who were devoted to prayer, and to the hermits whose sole purpose was to pray continually in the place of others who were occupied with day to day chores and responsibilities. I think that's an incredible sacrifice for the love of others and of God.

I have also begun to read a book that I long ago put down, Philip Yancey's Prayer, Does it Make Any Difference. Yancey says he is a pilgrim, and he's trying to discover what prayer is all about right along with the rest of us.

I recently became aware of IHOP (not the pancake house, but the International House of Prayer.) Have you heard of it? You might have because it's, like so many other spiritual undertakings, become controversial. I don't know if the leader is a "false prophet" or if the followers are "being brainwashed." I truly don't know enough about that group or that pastor to say. But when I read that this type of continual prayer (the house is open 24/7) is seldom seen in the modern age, I thought that was probably true. I wonder if this could be a modern interpretation of what the Celtic monks did in ancient times.

I'm listening to the podcast right now as I write this. Like the Celts, I don't believe you have to be in a church to pray. I think there are many ways to pray, and I believe God hears our prayers. And that lives are changed because of our prayers. So, I have a hard time condemning the effort of encouraging prayer.

In Celtic Wisdom I wrote a chapter on Celtic Prayer. I'm going to revisit that on this blog in my next post. Would love to hear what you think about prayer.

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