On Prayer - a message from CUF
WCCM in the UK have linked with The Church Urban Fund (CUF) to use their administrative experience and capabilities in running grant management systems. In such a partnership both partners obviously need to benefit. Initially we believed that CUF were benefitting by spreading their administrative cost over a wider grant pool. However, we found that this was not the only reason, and it was with great delight when Paul Hackwood, the Executive Chair of CUF, shared with us the following:
Our Together Network works with about 30,000 people who are active in their local communities and who want to see positive change in people’s lives and the communities in which they live. Certainly, in my experience all of them are people of good will who want to see the places where they work flourish and thrive.
For many this is an all-consuming passion. They send me emails after midnight and then early again the next morning. In many ways devotion to this cause is admirable and humbling: we see real change in real lives which makes the day to day struggles of the work worth the effort.
However, pausing for a moment to pray and reflect can help you see and think more clearly. Silent contemplation provides us with the place where we can be still enough to create a place of reflection and steadiness, which has much greater benefits than endless activity. A contemplative spirit and an active heart provide exactly the foundation for a changed world.
Activity can sometimes push out prayer as the busyness of the day pushes out all other considerations as people respond to crisis after crisis. It is difficult to make time for prayer when confronted with the demands of a needy neighbourhood.
The reality though is for most of us, this busyness can be an escape from other more personal things that we may not want to face or at best a hinderance to thinking through the best response to the situations we are facing. As Desmond Tutu is reputed to have said, 'There comes a point where we need to stop pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.'
I have found through many years of active ministry that to be centred and focussed requires times of silence and contemplation. Though this time may have to be fought for as the demands around press in, it is essential if we are to be at our most effective.
The great social reformer William Wilberforce is reputed to have broken his day up into 15-minute sessions and for each session he accounted in his prayers about how effectively he had used it in God’s service. Such a measure may be a little over the top for most of us but for Wilberforce, prayer was a constant support in his work and meant those times of reflection were not a time of critical judgement about where he has fallen short but rather real opportunities to take stock and move on. I think there might be an opportunity for us to find our own way to do this, every day.
With all this in mind, it is with great pleasure that we are now working with the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) to help foster silent prayer through their networks and ours, encouraging existing meditators to share the gift of meditation with others with the assistance of the grant fund.