I like to believe that I live a fantasy world. To give you the briefest glimpse; it's a wonderful picture where I've grown old, I've magically lost interest with the distractions of the world, and instead I am animated praying and talking about prayer.
At first, this fantasy does seem to have some grounding. When I think of people who have prayer as a central part of their life they either have magnificent grey hair… or very little hair at all.
For example, when I was growing up, Ken was one of the greying men in my church. He had retired a long time ago, and burnt into my memory is a conversation we had; he asked by name after two of my neighbours. I must have mentioned them in passing the year before, but Ken told me that he had been praying for these two people who lived across the hall from me every week for the last year.
And so, through the incredible example of Ken, and many others, this link is reinforced in my mind: old(er) people are excellent at prayer, therefore when I become old(er) I will become better at prayer.
There is no link between our number of grey hairs and a guaranteed excellent prayer life. There is zero grounding for this. It's a myth.
Ken didn't wake up at the point of retirement suddenly able to pray. Ken cultivated a discipline of prayer. This is why in church we sometimes talk about prayer as a 'spiritual discipline', or a 'habit of grace'. As a young man he had made a decision to intentionally invest time in his relationship with God. It wasn't something that he came up with on his own, he came up with it looking at the life of Jesus, where, in the busiest times of his ministry Jesus prioritised time to go 'off to a solitary place' to pray (Mark 1v35).
As I write this, I find myself living a spiritually undisciplined life. Things are opening up again, it feels like my world has become busy, there are a lot of distractions, and I'm not making time to pray. This is why I need my church. Admittedly we lack a lot of grey hairs at The Globe Church, but I need you as my church family to help me to pray! I need my church family to point me to Christ, to be examples, to be like Ken (grey hair is not required), and to give me times and places where we can intentionally come together to pray so I can remember and see the joy of it.
This is why Tuesday morning prayer is an important part of my week - it's not just an odd Zoom call hanging on after lockdown times! It's why praying as a Focus group matters, and why gathering as a church on the first Wednesday of the month to pray matters, and it's why taking the time as part of our Sunday gathering to pray matters.
These gatherings are never about coming together to display our expertises in prayer. They are times to come and express our dependance on God, and through them we all learn and grow together in our relationship with God. It's in these times that we set in place disciplines, which through time, and God's grace, form habits. And as our hair begins to grey, those habits become things that will give life in a way that nothing else ever will.