Pastor’s Blog – Sept. 8, 2021

     Yesterday, I wrote that the Means of Grace are spiritual practices that open us up to Christ and position us to be drawn closer to Christ.
Christ uses such means to transform us into his image. In short, the Means of Grace are transcendent exercises that allow us to live with Jesus so that we might become like Jesus.
     In addition to Holy Communion, prayer is yet another means by which we open ourselves to the presence and work of Christ. Sometimes prayer is viewed as a one-way street or a manner of informing God as to the things we want or need. Yet there is much more to prayer. John Wesley quoted Jesus in saying, “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, CEB). Commenting on this passage, Wesley wrote:
Here we are in the plainest manner directed to ask in order to, or as a means of, receiving;
to seek in order to find the grace of God. The Means of Grace, 384
Wesley emphasizes that Jesus’ directives to ask, seek, and knock are not methods of getting what we want, as much as receiving what we need most. God’s Grace.
     Even more, prayer is a spiritual interaction between Christ and the human soul in which we are transformed. Richard Foster writes:
To pray is to change. This is a great grace.
How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by love and joy and peace
and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control.
For Foster, prayer is the central avenue Jesus uses to transform us. By itself, prayer can do nothing but get us to the place (and to the One) where something can be done.
The word for prayer in Greek is proseuche, meaning breath.   Author, Edwin Hatch, draws on this metaphor in his beloved hymn:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.