Wednesday 18 March 2015

A Pattern of Prayer: Finding a Groove

I'm trying to get into a groove here, with a rhythm, a pattern, a way to move through the day with prayer. 

{I am not a monk with hours of quiet contemplation, but a modern mom, held to the pace of a two and four year old and a hundred year old house in the country. I do not live by the chiming of a clock, though we have a flexible schedule that is the backbone of most days. Feeding the family, that is the reality around which the day revolves. And if I'm not careful, I can miss my own meal in all the preparation and serving and cleanup. I can miss my own meal. There is no end to the work, no bells to signal completion, no ticking off one box without adding three more, and it all can keep me running, running on hungry, and running down to empty.

I need to eat. Pause and break the bread of life, share this sweet communion. There is a time to wake, a time to work, a time to play, a time to rest. There is a time to eat.}

And so I imagine how I will translate the tradition of "hours" of prayer into my own moments of prayer, a movement of prayer, or rather of movement of self through the fabric of prayer.

This is the sketch in my head, rather like a line graph, with rise and fall and lots of scribbling, still in revision.

These are the moments I am learning to move into prayer:

1. Morning - A Gathering Prayer

"O lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun."*

Here is the gathering, the offering of the strands of my life, held out to be woven with God's own hands.
The reaffirmation to "Love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength."
To begin the day in the light of His countenance.
To begin the day with the bread of His Word.

Before work, this worship.
Before my plans, His purpose.
Before movement, this deep breath.
Before feeding others, this filling up.

I gather manna fresh for this day, and pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matt. 6:11)

2. Mid-morning - An Embracing Prayer

"Love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 22:39)

Here I sit with the ones God has given me to love, sit with our morning snack and children's Bible, eating together.
Now is the time to spread our arms wide and embrace the needs around us, and carry our burdens to the Lord.
We pray for our neighbour and for ways to love them.
We spread our prayers into the world that they may go ahead wherever God may lead us.
We pray together, for others.
Here is compassion and intercession, and the faith of children.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10)

3. Noon - A Rising Prayer

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Here at the height of the day, the height of the clock, I lift my eyes up, turn my thoughts toward heaven, and raise my thanksgiving.

Hands are busy, tummies are hungry, but my heart turns thankful.
I name the blessings, great and small, treasures of this very day.
In the middle of it all, there is always something to be thankful for.

This motion lifts the mundane into a living marvel and makes room for joy.

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:3)

4. Mid-afternoon - A Centering (Abiding) Prayer

"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine." (John 15:4)

Here, by chance, I catch my breath and a cup of coffee at the same time. The day is in full swing, but we have built time for rest into it, and rather than find ways to amuse myself, I try to find ways to abide in Him.

I stop. Remember. Rest my soul. Rejuvenate.
Calm the chaos and center into the deeper reality behind these fleeting hours.
I reach down, root myself.
Make a knot. 

"She is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever she does, she prospers." (Psalm 1:3)

I take root that I may bear fruit.

"Establish thou the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:17)

5. Supper Meal - A Celebratory Prayer

"One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts." (Psalm 145:4)

All together now, we give thanks.
We speak blessing.
(We practice table manners.)
We rejoice.
We recount.
We feast.

6.  Evening - A Prayer of Release

Now, night falls, and it is time to lay aside the day.
Release its worries, problems, and work.
Release my grip on the things I cannot control.
Release my spirit to rest in His presence.
I unravel the things that threaten to choke, examine my living of this day and confess my sins.

Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy.

I entrust my soul to His tender care and unceasing watch.
I entrust my body to the sleep He gives His beloved.

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid.
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." (Prov. 3:24)


I am a child learning to dance, learning to move in a new way. I am forming these often faltering steps - habits - that soon I hope will catch on to the rhythm and carry me along. More than that, I am reaching out in faith and finding a Father who is more than eager to move toward me.

* From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Shane Clairborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. 


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