Lent Bookclub Part 9: Soul-parenting

Chapter 4: Stillness; Part 1: Making Space for God

Stillness is definitely one of the aspects of prayer which people think they’re no good at. Praying on the go is something we tend to think we can manage, but stopping and stilling ourselves for any length of time feels nigh on impossible for some of us. And there’s a good reason for that. Stilling our bodies may be relatively straightforward, but stilling our souls is a whole different ballgame … mostly because our souls would usually rather be caught up in said exciting ballgame than sitting still. In fact, the psalmist wasn’t a million miles off when he (or she, perhaps?) Likened the soul to a toddler (Ps 131:2). Listen to the podcast for more on that subject.

I hope you get chance for a bit of stillness over the next couple of days. Feel free to comment and tell us all what you learn as you give it a try.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/Soul-parenting-Chapter-4-Part-1-e3gsmk/Soul-parenting-Chapter-4-Part-1-ac1p7n

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Lent Bookclub Part 8: The wonder of stories

Chapter 3: Listening; Part 2: Listening with the Senses

This chunk of the book is mostly about listening to God with our senses, and I figure that’s quite familiar to many of you, but I do delve a little into the sixth sense … no, not seeing dead people … the sense of imagination. If our five physical senses tell us about the world around us, then our imagination tells us about the world as it could be, and if you’re a follower of jesus, that’s quite an important sense to develop, because he was all about imagining a better, brighter, kinder world and then living it into reality.

This episode of the podcast is me talking more about imagination and the importance of story. We learn to love stories when we’re young because God speaks through them. And we still need them now, to help us hear him telling us the sorts of things he wants to tell us.

And there’s a little challenge at the end to do with remembering stories you loved as a child … so why not comment below and tell us what your favourite story was and why you loved it.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/The-wonder-of-stories-Chapter-3-Part-2-e3gj6s

Lent Vookclub Part 7: God and sat navs

Chapter 3: Listening; Part 1: Recognising God’s Voice

In my life as a writer and speaker on prayer, I hear an awful lot of people saying they’re no good at prayer (whatever that means), but there’s another thing I hear almost as often, and that’s people saying they never hear God speaking to them. I hope you won’t be offended if I say that’s an absurd notion! Scripture and church tradition leave us in no doubt that God is in constant communication with us, his beloved, in so many different ways. Our problem is we’re often only listening out for one kind of communication from him, and that’s the one kind he doesn’t often give.

Listen to the podcast for more on that, and an enlightening story about sat navs. And read Chapter 3 Part 1 for some more on how you can get familiar with God’s Voice.

Today’s question: What’s the strangest way God has ever spoken to you? Answers in the comments below … let’s celebrate the endless quirkiness of God 😉

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/God-and-sat-navs-Chapter-3-Part-1-e3fvq3

Lent Bookclub Part 6: Grief is worship

Chapter 2: Worship; Part 2: Grief and Gratitude.

This section of the book takes a quick look at that amazing story in Luke 7 of the woman who brought Jesus an offering of herself, her tears and her jar of perfume. The trouble is, it was such a quick look that I didn’t get to say half of what I wanted to say, so here’s a podcast with a bit more to chew on. It’s really all about grief, and how we assume we need to fix it or get over it, in order to produce some good-quality worship. Yet to God, our grief actually is worship.

This is never an easy one to talk about, but if you’ve got any thoughts or stories to help other people keep company with their grief in prayer, please share them in the comments.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/Grief-is-worship-Chapter-2-Part-2-e3fj1o

Lent Bookclub Part 5: Mini Explosions

chapter 2: Worship; Part 1: Presence and Praise

After all the introducing and scene-setting, we’ve finally made it to our first “prayer type”, and that’s worship … arguably the most important aspect of Christian prayer. This section has some thoughts on what praise is, and how we might do more of it. Praise is one of those things we know we should do, and we know we should probably enjoy it, but sometimes it can seem more like repeating of old familiar words with little heart. What brings praise to life?

As for this podcast … well it’s me sharing my tips on how I rediscover the wonder and joy of praising God, especially when it’s all got a bit flat inside me. If that sounds like something you identify with, I hope my thoughts are helpful.

And the big question for today: Where is your “thin place”? Is there somewhere where you always sense the presence of God more strongly than usual, and where you find yourself bubbling up with praise? Why not comment and tell me. I’d love to know.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/Mini-Explosions-Chapter-2-Part-1-e3etoc

Lent Bookclub Part 4: Deep calls to Deep

Chapter 1: Encounter; Part 2: Heart to Heart

This evening I’ve been thinking about being honest when we pray … honest about how we’re feeling, for instance. That’s handy as it’s what this second part of chapter 1 is all about. But why does it matter? Doesn’t God know how we’re doing before we know it ourselves? I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s something we miss out on when we don’t stop to acknowledge how we feel … when we don’t stop to tell God what is going on in our hearts. And that’s what this podcast is about. Oh, and of course the Heart to Heart section has even more to get your teeth into.

If you do the “Trying it” activity with the photograph, by the way, please do pop in here and tell us how it was for you. Some people find it challenging and others find it exhilarating.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/Deep-calls-to-deep-Chapter-1-Part-2-e3eloa/Main-abl2d8

Lent Bookclub Part 3: God is real

Chapter 1: Encounter; Part 1: Face to Face

Today we’re revisiting some of the basics of Christian prayer. There’s a lot of prayer out there, but Christian Prayer has some distinctives that are encouraging to get hold of. Have a read of today’s section of the book to see what some of those distinctives are, and listen to this podcast to hear me debunking some of the unhelpful ideas we sometimes develop around prayer.

But most of all, take a moment today to celebrate the astonishing truth that God is not far off. God is real, present, and close to you every moment of your day, if you want him to be.

And if you’ve got a moment to leave a comment, tell us about a time when you knew God was right there with you. What was happening and how did you know he was there?

Happy Monday!

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/God-is-real-Chapter-1-Part-1-e3e1d8/Main-abhi6n

Lent Bookclub Part 2: God wants to be with you

Prayer in the Making Lent Bookclub: more thoughts from the Introduction chapter

Welcome back! I hope you’re enjoying thinking about your bests and worsts in prayer. Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us. I’ll give you this one as an encouragement: a couple of days ago, my brain was so dead when I sat down to pray that I ended up doing an online M&S order! And since I’ve banned myself from feeling guilty about prayer, I am just concluding that these trousers (which have just arrived) will be the most blessed trousers I’ve ever worn!

Maybe that’s what set me thinking about how important is for us to know that God wants to be with us. Even when we get so weary in prayer that we resort to the online shopping app, he still loves us and enjoys our company. (I have a hunch he quite likes a bit of shopping too!)

And if we know how much he wants to remain in us (john 15), then it changes how we pray. When we know we’re utterly known and loved by the one we’re talking to, it brings prayer to life in a new way. The prayer practices in this book are all good things to be learning, but they transform into vibrant encounters when we know we’re not talking to a distant acquaintance, a churlish parent or a task-focused boss, but to the one who said “I want to be right there with you – in you – for all time.

Listen to the podcast to hear me talking a bit more about that. And please do share your thoughts in the comments. There’s a little interactive exercise to do at the end of the podcast, so you might like to pop back in and tell us how it went for you.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/God-wants-to-be-with-you-Introduction-and-Foreword-e3dibk/Main-abf6m6

Lent Bookclub Part 1: The best and worst of prayer

Good morning on this Ash Wednesday morning, and welcome to the Prayer in the Making Lent Bookclub. Whatever you’re giving up or taking up this Lent, I’m praying it’ll be a rich and helpful season for you … and if you’re giving up coffee, chocolate or any other stimulants, I’m praying the headaches won’t be too bad!

Our focus this week is to read the Foreword and the Introduction chapter of Prayer in the Making, and we’re going to be talking about the “best and worst” of prayer.

One of the reasons I wrote the book is because people so often tell me how bad they are at prayer. I imagine we’ve all had moments of thinking we don’t pray well enough or often enough or eloquently enough. Yet God isn’t the grumpy authoritarian who marks us out of 10 when we pray. God is the loving parent who is overjoyed whenever we choose to communicate. So how do we get past the guilt?

The first thing is to recognise that we’re all different, and to learn a bit about what kind of “pray-er” you are. What makes you come alive in prayer? What bores you out of your mind? Now, prayer isn’t always going to be easy and enjoyable. It’s a discipline which we choose to keep, regardless of how we feel about it, but it helps enormously if we understand how God made us, and what sort of prayer comes most naturally to us.

There’s more about that in the Introduction chapter, and in the podcast below, so find a spare 10 mins to listen to it if you can.

Here are a few questions for you to ponder over the next few days:

1. What’s your favourite kind of prayer? Do you have a favourite place or a favourite way of praying? What’s been your most powerful prayer experience?

2. What’s your least favourite kind of prayer? Have you had moments when Prayer has been excruciatingly dull or really unhelpful for some reason?

Leave a comment and tell us what it’s been like for you. Let’s share ideas, and sympathise with each other over the awkward/crazy/boring bits.

https://anchor.fm/lyndall-bywater/episodes/Episode-1-The-best-and-worst-of-Prayer-Foreword-and-Introduction-e3c77n/Main-ab7utp

Lent Bookclub info and instructions

Here’s some slightly more detailed information about how the Prayer in the Making Lent Bookclub will work. It’s just 5 days away now!

Listen to the podcast here …

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