Daily Prayer

It matters to me to have time for prayer daily. I recommend the practice to you. The prayer can take many forms and when and how it happens can vary as individual circumstances vary.

I particularly like morning prayer—since I am most likely to take the time because it happens before much else does. It also means that I start my day remembering that all is in God, maybe remembering to walk with Jesus. I practice Centering Prayer. Some people may want simply a time of stillness or a brief period of meditation, or even just a morning ritual stretch—maybe a reaching up “Good morning, God” and a bowing “Thank you for this day.” Or maybe a daily time of intercessory prayer on the commute to work, with a planned different category of persons or things to pray for and about each day.

The morning prayer could also be a devotional reading. There are plenty of books, monthly guides, and websites that can direct your content—readings from C.S. Lewis, Richard Rohr, Joan Chittister, poetry selections; Sacred Space; denominational guides such as Give Us This Day or Moravian Daily Texts. Sharing this time is especially sweet—with a person who shares your living space or by having a partner at a distance who is reading the same thing (or just praying at the same time). Bible reading can provide rich food—reading one Psalm a day or one each day for a week, praying slowly through a gospel one small passage at a time, or following a daily lectionary.

Evening prayer—remembering the day and noticing the gifts and learnings in the day, embodied prayer like praying the rosary, or simply taking time to commune with God—is just as valuable.

I find such prayer is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. When I start a new puzzle and the pieces are dumped chaotically out on the table, I like to find the edge pieces and put them together, forming a frame that begins to suggest some order for all the other pieces. A daily time of prayer creates a frame around all my day.

Queries:

What resistance do you have to drawing inward in prayer, stillness, or meditation, and especially to a daily practice of it?

What name do you use for that One who brings life– God, Higher Power, Jesus, Mary, Light, Love, Inward Teacher—and what does that name mean to you?

Prayer:

See suggestions above.

For further reflection:

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (see Mark 1:32-35).

“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight” (see Philippians 1: 3-11).

Hope: A Spiritual Discipline

As a person who can look at a situation and acknowledge the hard things and who is not afraid to stand with pain and suffering, I can also easily despair. I know we need hope. It is life-giving. In Waging Peace: Discipline and Practice (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #420), Pamela Haines names practices for learning to live transformed for peace, and the discipline of hope is the first she mentions. What is the kind of hope that brings life and possibility?

The book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew scriptures talks about false prophets who cry “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. Hope not based in reality is not hope. Neither is it wishful thinking or simply expectation of what I want to happen. True hope is based on what we know or have experienced, and it is hope in what we cannot now see. We may not even be able to imagine it. Yet we have reasons to hold onto its possibility and to live toward that.

We may, for example, hope for the healing of a friend’s incurable disease. How can our hearts not desire that?! Yet if our hope is merely to get what we want, we will likely be disappointed or disillusioned.   Hope that is true hope is in a larger definition of what healing is, a larger vision of what is possible–a hope that is based on an awareness of the vastness of God’s goodness and the depth of God’s love. Healing can be a cure, but it can also be presence, comfort, tending, and bringing wholeness that extends into the world and beyond.

Our task is to learn to look for and to see the signs of hope. That may take opening our hearts to the One who makes all things new. It may also take learning to notice what we can be thankful for even in the midst of troubles.   Pamela says we need to develop the muscle of hope.

Queries:

What is your experience with hope?

What would it take to increase your hopefulness?

Prayer:

Hope is a prayer because it connects you with the Divine. Find a way to practice hope.

For further reflection:

“They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (See Jeremiah 8: 8-11).

“Sing and rejoice, you children of the Day and of the Light. For the Lord God is at work in this thick night of darkness that may be felt.” (George Fox, Epistle 227, 1663).

Prayers of Simple Presence

In the Spiritual Nurturers class of School of the Spirit Ministry, having trouble finding time to pray and doing it routinely is a common early complaint. Perhaps we imagine that the only prayers that count are long and dutiful. Instead, prayer is about relationship and intimacy with the Source of life and being, more about a certain quality than a necessary time frame or pattern.

There are many ways to pray that take little time.   A doctor I knew, following approved practice, carefully cleaned her hands prior to visiting each patient. The hand-washing time was prayer time. She collected herself, centered in God, and brought into that grounded internal space the person she would be seeing. There were no words, and it took only seconds, yet it opened the doctor to being with the patient in a more healing way.

Some prayers are simply responses to a situation— Help! Thanks. Wow! These are prayers because they acknowledge the More, they are felt deeply, and the pray-er is changed.

Slow, deep, mindful breathing can also be prayer. It can be inviting relationship with the Holy, because it is usually done intentionally and often includes letting go the distractions and busyness, even doubts, that keep one unavailable both to oneself and to God. Paying attention to the breath can be paying attention to Spirit.

The deepening of one’s relationship with God, with Mystery, changes the quality of prayer. It isn’t easy. Meanwhile what is most important is to pray as one can and not as one can’t.

Queries:

How can you pray?

What do you yearn for that draws you to want to pray? What are your concerns?

Prayer:

Silently repeat over and over a brief prayer sentence, breathing in while saying the first part of the words and breathing out while saying the rest of it. For example, “O Lord,/ be my helper” (Psalm 30: 10b).

For further reflection:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought . . .” (Romans 8: 26).

“When I felt secure, I said, ‘I shall never be moved.’ . . . but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” (Psalm 30: 6-7).