It's from Wycliffe College, where I did my Master of Theological Studies, and I know exactly what's inside. This one piece of mail has had a large influence in my journey toward more intentional prayer.
When I read it, I remember I am part of something bigger. When I read it, I know I am thought of with intention. When I read it, I feel as if a great circle of prayer has opened up and drawn me inside.
I know what will happen, at some point in April, in the little brick chapel with the stained glass saints, at the end of the long hall lined with alumnae faces.
A real live person will say my name in prayer, out loud, and the sound will rise up past those wooden rafters and make its way to heaven.
I know because I've been there, and I've heard the prayers. It's all part of the Wycliffe Cycle of Prayer. A long time ago, the communal wisdom decided it would be a good idea to write down the names of all of the living Wycliffe alumnae, and pray for each person once a year as part of the daily offices. There's even a little booklet made up each year, sent to all the alumnae, with all these names divided up by date. It's not rocket science, nor is it empty ritual. It's an audible, tangible, intentional working out of Paul's admonition to "Devote yourselves to prayer" (Colossians 4:12).
Somebody thought of me, and didn't want to forget, so they wrote my name down. They prayed for me by name. And they sent me this card.
I don't know about anyone else, but I can be forgetful. I can have good intentions to pray for a lot of people, and a lot of things, but unless these intentions are formed into a plan, they too easily get lost along the way or elbowed out by the urgent.
It's been a growing desire, these past years, to put more devotion into my prayer. And whenever I get one of these in the mail, I am reminded that a little planning can go a long way.
This April, I kept it up on the fridge all month. And I started thinking what it would look like to create my own cycle of prayer, for me, and our family. Something simple. A starting point. A place to hang those dear names, those concerns and burdens, those stirrings of the Spirit, those passions and pursuits. A way to remember, and a way to keep me going in the habit of prayer. I've been experimenting with one or two ideas, and maybe I'll share them in posts to come.
So, thanks Wycliffe! Your prayer keeps on giving.