It has been a very exciting week at Church of the Resurrection. The preparation of the classrooms and of our hearts has finally come to fruition as we welcomed the students, faculty and staff of Saint Paul School of Theology into the Leawood campus. As a Saint Paul alumna, it was heartwarming to reconnect with many of my former seminary professors in the hallway. Henry H. Knight, lll, my former professor of evangelism wrote a book titled, “Eight Life Enriching Practices of United Methodists,” which teaches us about the spiritual practices John Wesley calls “means of grace.” These practices help us enter into a life- changing relationship with God and nurture our Christian growth toward holiness. I have never met an individual more passionate about John Wesley’s life and what it means to be a United Methodist Christian today than Dr. Knight, so for today’s prayer tip I will share several excerpts from his chapter on prayer.
“[John Wesley] called prayer ‘the grand means of drawing near to God.’ Prayer is so indispensable to the Christian life that the other means of grace are themselves helpful only ‘as they are mixed with or prepare us for this.’ Prayer, he says, is ‘the breath of our spiritual life, ’” p. 31.
“Prayer is how we go through each day in constant awareness of God’s presence and in continued gratitude for God’s gracious love,” p. 32.
“Just as we must inhale air and then exhale in order to live and grow, so must we also receive the life-giving Spirit and then breathe back to God our prayers….Without prayer, our life with God cannot continue,” p. 33.
“To give God thanks and praise is at one and the same time to acknowledge who God is and who we are. It is to remember all that God has done in creating our world and saving us through Jesus Christ. It is to thank God for all of life’s blessings but most especially for the gift of new life. In the process, we acknowledge as well our need to be saved and to be remade in God’s love. Offering praise and thanksgiving to God is the ultimate form of realism. We cannot enter into this kind of prayer and remain the same, “p. 34.
“Our prayers to God do not remove us from the world so much as they prepare us to engage the world. They increasingly enable us to look upon our neighbor and our world with something like the eyes of God and to shape our lives and actions with the love of God,” p. 35.
To complement our sermon series on the lived-out faith of John Wesley, our small group is going to read and engage in the “Eight Life-Enriching Practices of United Methodists” for our fall study. This book, which is also wonderful for personal spiritual reading, can be found at the Well bookstore on the Leawood campus. I invite you to pick one new spiritual practice this fall so that your life might be renewed by the Holy Spirit and in the words of John Wesley, your heart become “strangely warmed.”
–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer