Introductory Note:

In a piece excerpted from “Becoming Like Jesus: Prayer-Filled Life,” Chris Webb reminds us of the blessing of corporate prayer. In the very act of gathering together with the same community, week after week, year after year, we can draw unexpected strength and spiritual vitality. We invite you to consider anew today how praying with the Church can “wrap you in its life of prayer.”

Renovaré Team

Per­haps the great­est sin­gle resource avail­able to those who want to nur­ture a stronger life of prayer is the local church com­mu­ni­ty. Because our cul­ture places such a high pre­mi­um on nov­el­ty, vari­ety, and enter­tain­ment, many of us under­val­ue the con­tri­bu­tion our church­es make to our rela­tion­ship with God. I have often had the priv­i­lege of speak­ing at spe­cial con­fer­ences and events, where peo­ple often reflect on how they arrived dry and tired, and leave feel­ing refreshed, renewed, and invig­o­rat­ed. That, of course, is one of the great ben­e­fits such a spe­cial event can offer. In the end, of course, the feel­ing tends to wear off, but for a time it pro­vides a much need­ed shot in the arm.

It can be hard­er, though, to notice the incred­i­ble strength we draw from the pre­dictable, some­times unvary­ing, often low-key prayer and wor­ship we expe­ri­ence Sun­day after Sun­day. We gath­er togeth­er with peo­ple whom we have come to know well, whose lives we share week by week. Togeth­er we bring before God the needs of our fam­i­lies, friends, com­mu­ni­ty, and world. We return over and again to the same needs, the same dif­fi­cul­ties. It is here that we real­ly learn the most valu­able lessons in prayer. Per­sis­tence, some­times over many years. Hon­esty. Strug­gle. Sim­plic­i­ty of words. The long obe­di­ence in the same direction.

And these are the peo­ple who con­tin­ue our prayer when we our­selves can pray no more. One of the most beau­ti­ful and help­ful ideas I have drawn from the tra­di­tion­al, litur­gi­cal church­es is that prayer belongs to the church. When­ev­er I pray — whether alone or with oth­ers — I am nev­er offer­ing my prayer alone; I am always join­ing the prayer of the Church. When I am unable to pray, because I am too tired, or unwell, or despair­ing, or dry, or sor­row­ful, the prayer does not cease. The Church con­tin­ues to pray, to wrap me in its life of prayer. And when I am able, I resume my part in the life of prayer, per­haps in turn hold­ing up oth­ers who are falling. In the end, I do not pray. We pray.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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