One area of Christian life and devotion that I hear people share their concerns about is prayer. There have been volumes written on the 'how to'; 'when to'; 'where to'; etc. ad nauseum. The fact is that we have difficulty setting aside the time to pray. And, when we do find the time, we don't always know what to do. Should we use a prayer list? intercede? supplicate?, (whatever the heck that is). Should we sit, stand, kneel, lay prostrate? Who knows?!? The scriptures reveal all of these and more. Fortunately, these questions have been asked throughout history, and some good practices have been developed. From time to time I hope to be able to find and share some things that may be of help in praying.
One thing that I have found very helpful is to use the form of the Daily Office. This has been practiced since the time that monasticism began to develop. While it may seem that it is too structured, structure can be a helpful thing to get us started. There are several online resources that can help. My favorite for the past couple years has been 'The Daily Office" at http://www.missionstclare.com
This combines daily scripture readings and prayers taken from the lectionary of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. I don't follow everything found there exactly as written, but it does provide a good jumping off point for me.
I think that we should use whatever tools are available to us in order to bring ourselves into God's presence. After all, that is the life of the Christian.
If anyone has other suggestions, please share them. We can use all the help we can get!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I am currently working on a project for school about Thomas Merton. This man was a Cistercian monk who lived at the Trappist monastery, Gethsemani, in Kentucky. The reason I chose this person out of many who are considered 'contemplatives' throughout the history of the Christian church was because of his apparent change of heart, or awakening, to the issues of his day. Today I learned something about this man of God that began to form my thesis. One cannot disassociate oneself from the fact of one's own participation in humanity in a quest to become closer to the One who created humanity. In order to understand and engage the world, with its violence, greed, and sin, it is necessary to engage these very things that reside in our own heart! How difficult that is for those of us who find our security in lofty platitudes of spirituality. We talk about our journey to self-realization as if it's the only journey being taken by anyone in the world. We defend our practices and understanding as if that was the only correct and true way to practice and understand. How blind we are! God is interested in God's creation. We are a part of that. God is therefore concerned about us as we are...in the midst of that creation. We cannot become hermits who hide from the reality of the world. I think that we must live compassionately in concert with God's purpose to redeem creation. Compassionately with other humans who are on the same journey as we.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I know that we all struggle sometimes with doing the right thing. Not just in the public arena, but in the quiet of our personal lives. Our thoughts stray into areas that we would like to leave buried. However, like some dreaded 'un-dead' creature, these things crawl out of the holes that we were sure would hold them. I have had these struggles, and have had my eye blackened...again. As I sat down this morning to spend time with Yahweh and confess my glaring inadequacies, I opened the website that I use for my morning devotions. The first scripture that was selected was Psalm 25.
|1||To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;|
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
|2||Let none who look to you be put to shame; *|
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
|3||Show me your ways, O LORD, *|
and teach me your paths.
|4||Lead me in your truth and teach me, *|
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
|5||Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, *|
for they are from everlasting.
|6||Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *|
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
|7||Gracious and upright is the LORD; *|
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
|8||He guides the humble in doing right *|
and teaches his way to the lowly.
|9||All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness *|
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
|10||For your Name's sake, O LORD, *|
forgive my sin, for it is great.
|11||Who are they who fear the LORD? *|
he will teach them the way that they should choose.
|12||They shall dwell in prosperity, *|
and their offspring shall inherit the land.
|13||The LORD is a friend to those who fear him *|
and will show them his covenant.
|14||My eyes are ever looking to the LORD, *|
for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
|15||Turn to me and have pity on me, *|
for I am left alone and in misery.
|16||The sorrows of my heart have increased; *|
bring me out of my troubles.
|17||Look upon my adversity and misery *|
and forgive me all my sin.
|18||Look upon my enemies, for they are many, *|
and they bear a violent hatred against me.
|19||Protect my life and deliver me; *|
let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
|20||Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, *|
for my hope has been in you.
|21||Deliver Israel, O God, *|
out of all his troubles.
I was comforted by these words. God is still for me, whether I deserve it or not. I hope that this will also be a comfort to anyone that reads this entry.