A few years ago, I entered a 'reader's challenge' with some friends. We were going to try to read a variety of book genres and styles, ideally to expand our reading horizons. They included things like graphic novel, unread classic, poetry, historical fiction, Canadian non-fiction, that sort of thing.
It was fun! I learned a lot about my reading style and preferences (I don't like graphic novels, La Princesse de Clèves was over-rated, I enjoy poetry, etc.) And it led to some amazing discussions with friends about our shared enjoyment of reading. These discussions have continued; it was like the fun 'challenge' opened the door to any type of literary chat.
While I am a voracious reader, before this challenge I was not one to expand my horizons very much. I knew what I liked, and why, and I didn't stray very much. This helped me to realise that I benefitted from being encouraged to expand my horizons: to try something new, to go outside my comfort zone, and to be OK with not liking everything. My willingness to go beyond my existing boundaries led to an increased experience of reading.
The same is true with prayer. In my early days of spiritual formation, I was invited to find a format of prayer that 'worked' for me, and to stick with it. Which I've done! And it's lovely: my prayer practice informs and supports my ministry, it grounds me, it enriches everything I do through my connection with God.
Part of my spiritual journey has also been going beyond the norm: trying something new, being open to new practices, a willingness to change, a commitment to respond to the Spirit's call through a variety of new styles of prayer. Not all of them are a good fit for me, and there are times I need to re-visit prayer styles as I engage in different stages of my life and ministry. But I continue to try; and I continue to be amazed at God's voice speaking to me in delightful and unexpected ways.
This week, we are all being invited to make a journey in prayer, through the "Thy Kingdom Come" initiative - a global and ecumenical wave of prayer begun by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. For 10 days (from the Ascension through Pentecost) Christians are embracing prayer with a particular intentionality; and it's a party that everyone is invited to.
Whether you are joining a large group in an outdoor venue, or a small group in your church, or sitting with your family around a table, I hope that you pray: maybe you'll embrace a new practice, or share with your church how God is speaking in your heart when your prayers follow the same format they have for years. The world can only benefit from more prayer; let's be the ones to pray it.
For more information about "Thy Kingdom Come" please visit www.thykingdomcome.global
For more information about how to pray, please visit www.anglicanprayer.org