Rev. Andrew Dart

Dear Friends

As we begin a new Methodist year it is a privilege to welcome new people to our team.  We are thrilled to have Rev’d Kristin Markay amongst us and she will have Pastoral Charge of Brixton Hill and Mostyn Road.  We also welcome two new Circuit Stewards: Nana Dormon (Mostyn) and Comfort Babawale (Railton) and we thank God for those who have agreed to serve us as we go forwards together.

A new beginning is a time for renewed commitment and it is always helpful to be reminded of our past.  As Methodists we come from a tradition that at one time was ridiculed because its members were “methodical” about making time for prayer, Bible Study and fellowship.  I wonder if we could be ridiculed for these things today?

There are different types of prayer.  We can be good at what we might call “verbal” prayer which is simply sharing with God our thankfulness and our concerns as we pray for the world and one another.  What is much more difficult is what has often been called “contemplative” prayer – this is simply being with God in ‘silence’ as we empty our minds and centre our hearts on the Divine.

Jesus understood the difference between these types of prayer.  He taught us the Lord’s Prayer so that we might know what “verbal” prayer should be like.  This prayer centres on the Kingdom – where everyone has enough to eat and where debt is forgiven.  Yet Jesus also often went off by himself to find space and silence for a more contemplative type of praying. This can seem harder as finding real peace and stillness requires practice and patience.  A Minister was asked by his congregation how long he spent in prayer each day.  He shocked them by saying he only spent 5 minutes a day in real prayer.  “But” he said, “it takes me 25 minutes to get there!”

A few years ago I worked in Haringey and every year the Churches came together for a Peace Week in which we prayed for our borough.  For a few years this was sponsored by the Metropolitan Police and the Borough Commander told the Church leaders that he was happy to put money into such a religious activity:  “I don’t know anything about prayer,” he said, “but every year in Peace Week crime goes down, so whatever you are doing – it works!”

Imagine how different the world might be if we were all able to spend just 5 minutes a day in real prayer – especially if it has taken us 25 minutes to get there!

With my love and wishing you every blessing,

Andy