URC :: Spirituality

broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:

How I found spiritual direction

Kathryn Price
4 September 2019

I was baptised at two weeks old and attended Sunday School from the age of three to eighteen. I said my prayers at bedtime like Christopher Robin, asking God to bless my nearest and dearest and when my children came along I taught them the same. In time I became an elder and a lay preacher, so imagine my sense of disturbance when the following happened:

I was working for Age Concern in Chester in the early 90s and one day found myself walking past the Cathedral. I stopped because I felt a compulsion to go in and pray. So I entered and found the side chapel, knelt down and —


How on earth could I have all that back history and still not know how to pray? After all I was leading prayer fairly regularly on Sundays, but I was good at finding other people’s words that expressed what I wished to say and was beginning to write my own. I spoke to my minister at the time, telling him of my feelings of confusion, of anger even and certainly of distress. Why did I not after all these years know how to pray for myself? Why had nobody taught me? How could I resolve this real need I felt?

It was suggested that I return to my lay preaching tutor, an experienced minister, for some guidance but his way of prayer was not something I could connect with; so another minister was suggested — a Geordie like myself, one with a robust sense of humour (he had, during a particularly dry debate, suggested District Council hold hands and try and contact the living!), but he was also someone who was immersed in the Ignatian way of prayer. Henry led me into a new way of communicating with God that was the beginning of a long, enlightening, enthralling journey into the spiritual life.

Henry was a good choice for me, because I had always thought that “spiritual” people were a bit fey, otherworldly and that rather scared me, because I didn’t feel that way at all. Henry was neither. He was ordinary, enjoyed this life and still lived and enjoyed an inner life. He showed me that “spirituality” was more than religion, but encompassed all that is. He took me out of the “prayer as words” mode and into “prayer as being with”.
Since that time I have had a range of spiritual directors — Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, lay, ordained, male, female — though it’s not a term I find all that helpful — too many implications of a right way. I’ve also explored how, as ministers and pastoral visitors, we can embrace this role ourselves through learning to listen and guide conversations in a spiritual way.

But I still often think back to that afternoon in Chester Cathedral and I have still on the noticeboard in my room a memo from Henry that says — 1) Stick with it and 2) There are no doors closed to God.