By Alexandra Pohlod, Assistant Curate
God gathers people into his Church in many ways. Some of us grew up in the Church, some didn’t. Some of us left and returned. In the course of my studies and work in the Church, I’ve had the privilege of hearing from many people what it is that drew them.
For me, it was prayer. Before I knew whether or not I even believed in God, I decided to begin praying.
This part of my story seems very mysterious to me. But that comes as no surprise. As I would come to learn a later on, prayer isn’t actually something we do. When we form the intent to pray, what we’re really doing is inviting the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. St. Paul talks about this in his Epistle to the Romans: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
It’s for this that prayer, along with the Sacraments and our love for one another, has always stood at the centre of the Christian life. It’s one of the ways we actually participate in the life of God. And over time, by offering our minds, our desires, and our words to God in prayer, these parts of us are able to grow more and more into the desires, the mind, and the words of Christ himself. It’s one of the most important ways that we, the Church, learn how to be his Body on earth.
I’m leading a series on the history of private prayer this September and October because, for me, living into my call as a Christian and a member of the Body of Christ has been enriched by the way the Spirit has spoken through our sisters and brothers in other ages. The Early Church, the Church in the Middle Ages, and the writers of the Reformation have all contributed to the way we pray today. Join me on September 13, 20, 27, and October 4 to learn more about how those who’ve gone before us thought about prayer and to talk about the role of prayer in our own lives today.