This month we are thinking about how our faith impacts our politics, and I’ve been wondering what it is that shapes my faith in the first place.
This shouldn’t be surprising, but through some training, meetings and worship in the last couple of weeks, the importance of reading the Bible and spending time in prayer has been brought up again and again. What I’ve heard is how God speaks through both of these, and how doing both should lead to action.
In a talk at the Greater Manchester Churches Together Annual Assembly last week, Rachel Lampard from the Joint Public Issues Team spoke of how prayer and action are totally connected. In the discussions later on, we talked about how we are so often God's answer to our own prayer. Rachel talked of how prayer without action is incomplete, but action without prayer can lead to burn out. We need both to be living out that connection with God.
During preacher training, Rev Dr Pete Phillips spoke about his book Engaging the Word and commented on the different hermeneutics – or lens we use to understand the Bible. We all come to the Bible with different understandings, different traditions and different ways of experiencing things. Pete encouraged us to let God speak through the Bible, to see it in the context it was written in and see what it can say to us now in this time and space.
On a recent Sunday I attended the dedication of the baby of some of my friends, and their church is very different to how I normally experience worship. However, the sermon about why prayer is important (because God hears, God sees and God speaks) ended with time to listen to God which felt very familiar.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve been reminded again and again to listen to God. I’ve had the opportunity twice to participate in Lectio Divina to hear God through scripture. I focused on the word 'seek' in Psalm 139 and 'let your light shine' in Matthew 5. I've pondered how often I seek God, and asked myself whether I do let my prayer and my Bible study impact how I live out my faith. I hope I do it without noticing, but it has been good to have a chance to think about how I learn more about what I know and believe, so that I can see how it impacts all that I do.
I know I need to learn to listen, to let God speak to me, so that I am not the one doing all the talking or all the interpreting. If I can do that then it can really be God who shapes what I think and therefore what I do.
I wonder, what is it that shapes your faith? Do check out our Devotionals and Bible Studies in the resource section. There is still time to book in to our Interrupted by God event this weekend too, where there will be plenty of opportunities to explore how God interrupts our lives.