Bishop’s Letter

The Gift of Prayer

It is a great joy and privilege to come and join you here in Bath and Wells as the new Dean of Wells, to serve the Cathedral, the diocese and the county. This is an area with strong links on my maternal side, with my grandparents being married in Bath, and many relatives from around this patch.

One of the many things which drew me to this role is the privilege of prayer in your beautiful Cathedral Church. Each morning we gather and pray for the life of the diocese, and give thanks for that same life in the evening. Please be assured of my prayers for you in your mission and ministry and I warmly look forward to getting out to explore the diocese.

As I reflect on this time of change, I am mindful of the importance of finding patterns of prayer to sustain our lives, and nourish our spiritual growth. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said many years ago, we must ‘think of prayer as a relationship.’ We are to invest in it, and to find space so that it can develop, and this takes time. Or as the mystic Evelyn Underhill put it, ‘On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.’ We all know the importance of taking time to invest in relationships, and I love the challenge that hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur. As we reflect on our own prayer lives, I wonder if there are ways that we can deepen our relationship in prayer? The Christian tradition is packed with ways to help people learn to pray. Maybe we can find ways to slow ourselves down and be more present to the gift of prayer, so that we may join in the Apostle Paul’s prayer, ‘we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding’. (Colossians 1.9)

By Toby Wright, who will be installed as the Dean of Wells on Saturday, 16 June