pathways of prayer
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Week 1 - The path of Holiness
The Holiness stream of Christian theology focuses on the inward reformation of the human heart and the development of holy character. It is central to the traditions of Methodism, the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God and the Church of the Nazarene. It is characterised by repentance and the confession of sins. So this week we will look at confession and brokenness in front of God as a key to prayer. But the Holiness stream of Christian spirituality is far from introspective. Holiness of heart always issues in acts of love and grace...what the Nazarenes and Salvationists call "compassionate ministries".
Week 2 - The path of Social Justice
Some people pray on their knees...but others pray with their hands. Working for peace and justice can be a form of prayer - and prayer and protest are closely linked in the Old Testament. When Jesus cleared the money-changers from the Temple he was praying out of anger, but also making a calculated act of worshipful defiance. Initiatives like the Iona Community and the Faithworks movement have given fresh impetus to this deep stream of Christian spirituality that includes figures like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King.
Week 3 - The Devotional path
This service will focus on prayer in the evangelical tradition. Evangelical spirituality has sometimes been neglected in favour of preaching and evangelism. But in recent years there has been a revival of interest in how evangelicals pray. Prayer in evangelical spirituality is rooted in devotion to the Scriptures, expounded in the Christian community and preached to the world. In the reading from John's gospel, Jesus prays that the disciples will know God together through the Word and will proclaim him to the world.
Week 4 - The Sacramental path
The Sacramental stream of Christian life focuses on the incarnation of God - making visible the invisible realm of the Spirit. The liturgical life and sacraments of the church are important in this tradition, of course. So this week we will look at the offices and sacraments of the church. As the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann pointed out in his book "The World as Sacrament", this form of prayer has a contemporary and ecological significance.
Week 5 - The Contemplative path
This week we focus on Desert Spirituality - practising the presence of God through the long haul of contemplation. There will be lessons from the desert fathers, and from the monastic traditions which are undergoing such a revival of interest. Nick Buxton will be exploring this in the Radio 4 service. Contemplation helps us take time to stop in a busy world and find God in Christ through silence and study.
Week 6 - The Charismatic path
Charismatic Christianity is the fastest-growing strand of Christianity in the United Kingdom. It focuses on the immediacy of the experience of God, as found in the Holy Spirit. The consequence is a response to worship and praise. So the prayer of praise will be at the centre of this week's service. How do we praise God - particularly in times of looming darkness as we approach Holy Week and the crucifixion of Christ? The Charismatic path links us to the celebration of Pentecost, which the church looks forward to after Easter.
This material has been provided by BBC Radio 4 in collaboration with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Text © BBC 2007. Web site © CTBI 2007.
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