URC :: Spirituality

broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:


Mark Argent
9 August 2018

I’m not comfortable with the language which suggests that “When I pray, coincidences happen” because it feels a little too close to “God does what I say, but has the decency not to make it too obvious”.

But coincidences are interesting. I’d struggle to make a case for them being viewed as prayer in any formal sense, but being held in the moment, attentive to God in the present means also having the level of awareness which will notice the things that “just happen”. Occasionally those are the unlikely events that are truly remarkable, but more often it is about being free enough from blinkers associated with the past to see what is really there.

In a sense this is simply about choosing to be fully present — and to see possibilities and alternatives rather than be so preoccupied with the past or the future that the present is ignored. But this is remarkably close to the mindset needed to be open to noticing the encounter with God. Phrased the other way around, how often are the things that “just happened” actually the things we “just happened to notice”?

Although I am uneasy with the idea of coincidences as explicit answers to petitions, it is interesting to see how often a willingness to be open to the things that “just happen” is also to be open to the presence of God.

One of the classic ways of deepening an awareness of the presence of God is to reflect back over parts of the day asking “Where was God in the experience?” It’s interesting to include in that an awareness of the “Things that just happened”, not because these are necessarily the handiwork of God (though noticing them might be), but because an awareness of them might just increase the general awareness of the presence of God.