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From the Minister


Thought for the Day Friday 18th April


Still waiting with the disciples for the next appearance of the Risen Jesus. I know that will be tomorrow, they of course were waiting not knowing what would come next. How they spent their time is something that we don’t know. As for me, I have been trying, in this age of lockdown and isolation, to spend more time in quiet contemplation and prayer. Oddly, something I miss about public worship is the time of silence we share. When together in the stillness we become aware of the presence of Jesus with us, for that is his promise, “For where two or three gather together in my name, there I am with them.”

I know (because they have told me) that others have difficulty with silence in worship; they tell me that their thoughts wander. That is true for me, especially as I attempt to spend a little more time on my own in prayer.

As part of rediscovering the old treasures that I have been on about rather a lot in these thoughts, I have just re-read Dom Bernard Clements’ book ‘When ye pray’. In the first part of the last chapter of his book, he deals with the problem of ‘wandering thoughts’. His advice is good. He dismisses the idea that you can just drive them out. He points out that the advice to incorporate them into your prayers maybe OK if the thought that crosses your mind is about your elderly great aunt who is ill, but might not be appropriate if the wandering thought is triggered by a cat walking past the window.

His real advice though, is about self-discipline and learning how to concentrate. He points out that we already have this skill. We use it when reading a book: if stray thoughts come into our minds, we do not let them take our mind off the plot. For example, “is the open window a clue to who might have committed the crime?” If you ever wrote an essay, you employed this skill. When writing a letter, you employ this skill - stray thoughts may come into your mind and they may cause you to pause, but you still complete the letter. So it is with stillness. We use the same skills to keep us from being distracted, and in so doing we can be still and know that God is God. So it is with prayer. Stray thoughts may distract us and cause us to pause, but just as if we were writing a letter, we can continue until we come to the Amen at the end of our prayers.

One final comment on this is found in Galatians, where self-discipline is included in the list of the fruit of the Spirit.

Steve Wallis

Newbridge Baptist Church
Llanafan Road, Newbridge, Powys, LD1 6LY
Telephone The Minister: 01597 860185
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