Standing in the need of prayer

Do you remember Sister Wendy?  She's a Carmelite nun who normally lives in total seclusion in a hut in the grounds of a convent.  She's also an Oxford graduate with a profound interest in art.  So a few years ago she was to be found presenting a television series looking at paintings.  Her enthusiasm and insight caught the public imagination; and the nation was astonished when she commented on the way one artist had depicted the 'lovely fluffiness' of a nude's pubic hair.

I recently came across a book by Sister Wendy about prayer.  What she says is basically that it's not always easy, there's no trick to it, no formula for the way of doing it.  In the end you can't copy other people.  You just have to get on and do it.  Pray when it's easy, pray when it's hard, pray when you can't see any point in praying.  Just do it.

Maybe that would be a good disciplines for all of us this Lent.  Not giving up chocolate or alcohol, though both might be good for our waistlines and our physical health and wellbeing.  But taking up prayer in a more regular and disciplined way - that would be very good for our spiritual health and wellbeing.  So now I'm going to ignore Sister Wendy's advice, and offer a simple formula for praying.  It's designed for children, but it works just as well for adults.

Look at your hand.  Take your thumb first:  make a thumbs up sign.  Give thanks for the good things you have.  Even in the darkest days there's always something or someone to be thankful for.

Then your first finger: the pointing finger.  But don't point it at other people, point it at yourself.  We all make wrong choices, deliberately or accidentally.  So ask forgiveness.  Ask God to forgive you, and then forgive yourself.

Your middle finger: usually the biggest finger.  What are the big things going on in the world?  Pray for people carrying big responsibilities, for those making the big decisions that affect us all.

Now your ring finger.  Tradition says it's connected to your heart, so pray for those closest to you, the ones you care for and worry about most.

Finally, your little finger: yourself.  Not because you're the last and least, but because looking at those other things first helps keep life and your own problems in perspective.

And at the end.  Just say Amen.

Love Lorna