Older News

March – The Rector Writes

I am not sure what words you use as a toast when you raise a glass of sherry in company (or a glass or something else…or as you clink your mugs of Horlicks…) but there is a wonderful old Irish toast I came across the other day: ‘As you slide down the bannisters of life, may the splinters always point in the right direction’. It made me chuckle, anyway.

During the season of Lent (which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter) we shall be focusing on Prayer in our Mission Community: encouraging one another to think about and develop our prayer lives.

What is a ‘prayer life’? It is the way you feel about God, and how you express it. Everyone at some point in their life will have prayed, or tried to pray. Everyone will have a different understanding of it. Some find prayer easy, some find it hard. Like anything, it needs a bit of attention if we are to find God in it and feel encouraged by it. It is as much about listening as it is about finding words or articulating expressions of how we feel or where we are. Whether we feel we are ‘sliding down the bannisters of life’, picking splinters out of our … or leaping up the stairs two at a time, prayer is beneficial. And there are lots of different types. ‘Arrow prayers’ (a quick prayer when you are halfway down the bannisters and you are anticipating the splinters), ‘contemplative prayer’ when you are somewhere quiet and alone, and other prayers for everywhere in between.

We often see images of saints kneeling, still, praying in heaven, hands together, eyes transfixed on higher things. This is not a bad image in itself, but it focusses too much on the individual, ‘mindfulness’ aspect of prayer, or of prayer simply as a singular activity, or mainly an act of deference to the Almighty. ‘Mindfulness’ is all the rage these days, and we are all encouraged to take time to be still and quiet as part of a good mental health regime. These things are very good and beneficial, but only part of what Christian prayer is.

The saints in heaven enjoy life to the full. In heaven, prayer is life and life is prayer. That is what prayer is: finding fullness of life and simply being with God and being part of his life, in stillness or activity.

Praying is often laying before God our lives and opening our hearts and minds—switching our radio sets from ‘transmit’ to ‘receive’. Not always an easy thing to do, but God has given us a prayer—The Lord’s Prayer—which can be used at any time, in any place, on our own, or in company. It reminds us of who God is and that he is always ready to hear us, even if at times we can’t bear that, or deal with it, or comprehend it, his huge and constant love is always there. Most importantly, it involves time.
Join us to spend more time thinking about prayer this Lent. Each Thursday evening we have a Lent Course session on prayer around the churches (details in the magazine or on the website). Our speakers are our local, friendly clergy (…and me….) and no previous experience is necessary. On Wednesday 5th April the Bishop of Exeter will be with us, sharing his personal insights on prayer. I warmly commend these sessions to you, even if you can only come to one of them.

From 1st March we shall be resuming Evening Prayer around the villages. These are traditional, informal short services (about 25 minutes), 5pm at a different church on Tuesdays (Colyford), Wednesdays (Colyton), Thursdays (Branscombe), and Fridays (Northleigh).

As always, there is a lot going on in our six churches. Details of our services during Lent and Easter can be found on our website ( or contact me if you are wondering when or where the next service is. I appreciate it can be confusing…I am always having to top and think, and check when and where I am going…which is another good analogy for prayer…

With every good wish and blessing,
Fr Steven

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>