Some years ago the late Reverend F P McMaster MBE, who served as the Minister at Canberra Baptist Church for 29 years and who was highly recognised for his 'Pulpit Prayers' sent the Olympic ministry's Mark Tronson a paper he had written titled 'Prayer through the Centuries'.
F P McMaster had been one of Mark Tronson's key mentors having grown up under his ministry and later as Mark Tronson developed the Sports and Leisure Ministry placing chaplains in Australia's professional sports from 1982–2000.
F P McMaster was on the Sports Ministry's "set-up" national board and when Basil Sellers House in Moruya on the NSW south coast the respite facility for elite athletes from the Australian Institute of Sport, was opened in 1992, F P McMaster gave the Dedication Prayer.
Now as chairman of Well-Being Australia, Mark Tronson says that he has regularly over the years sat down and read through this paper. It is meaningful to him for a number of reasons. One of these is that F P McMaster gave the prayer at Mark Tronson's mother's funeral in 1995. Before his death in 1998 F P McMaster had a small book of family prayers published of which Mark Tronson also has a copy.
The paper titled Prayer through the Centuries, was lengthy, six pages. In this series taking into account this F P McMaster paper Mark Tronson has divided it into four separate articles. This first one he has titled the Chords of Prayer.
The Chords of Prayer
F P McMaster wrote: Over the years I have been greatly helped and influenced by the prayers of others, from all traditions. They are like windows of their souls, glimpses of the issues that have crossed the threshold of their lives and their reactions to them. Their view of God comes through, obviously very strongly and enlighteningly.
These prayers widen our own horizon and deepen our sensitivities and touch fresh Chords within. They help us evaluate our own view of God, the world and of the issues to be confronted. They launch us into the day with surer foundations and larger visions and stronger commitments, or they help us rest quietly and beautifully in Jesus Christ each night.
To cultivate, educate and train our prayer life is natural, not artificial. It is not like trying to cultivate and grow palms in Greenland! This would be unnatural and futile. although Prayer in some form has been, and is, basic to human nature, there is a need to learn more so that we may practise it more enrichingly.
Because our prayers are often so limited and confined, I fear we often find them boring, repetitive and unsatisfying and therefore we talk about prayer but practise it only in a very limited and spasmodic way. If we widen, broaden, deepen, heighten our vision and scope, it will mean more and will increase our spiritual growth and the nature and commitment of our service. Our whole approach to life would be dramatically changed.
A little over-view, I think, is interesting. Stand on a mountain and have a look at the peaks. I refer, of course, to the content of the prayers. It is simply an impression I have gained without the research of a PhD student, rather of a life time in Ministry.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html