I’m a couple weeks into new routine of paying attention more regularly to my prayer life. I have been doing this through the discipline of praying the hours. I can’t say that I have hit every time slot, but what has happened to my train of thought has been nothing short of wonderful.
As an extrovert with a husband working mostly from home and four children, I have no shortage of voices to engage my thinking throughout the day. Maybe for you it is work conversations, people you bump into at school, your children’s coaches or ballet teachers. Maybe for you, you have voices that are challenging or exhausting. Maybe as much as you love talking (like me) the sound of your own voice and thought life exhausts you at times.
Fixed hour prayer has been one way to integrate all of my external noise with internal dialogue with Jesus. Our family is in the midst of a few path-altering choices where my husband and I are facing decisions that affect our financial future. We can only talk about these things for so long before we come to a place where we are forced to surrender. We do not control every outcome. We do not hold the responses of others under our influence. We can make predictions, but they are just as likely to not happen as they are to happen. So instead of spinning these thoughts like plates in the air, fixed hour prayer is one way to set all of the plates back in the cupboard and let them rest for awhile. After a momentary pause from spinning, I am finding myself more content with the unknown, more ready to face the next few hours without anxiety.
We have many voices to engage throughout the days and week. For me it is husband, children, friends, ministry partners, authors, spiritual directees and mentees who cause my own mental noise to become a jumbled mess of ideas and problems to consider. Having the fixed mark of praying the hours has been one way to regularly deposit the cares and concerns of my day into the capable hands of Jesus Christ.Then, I move on the the next few hours with a much more contented and clear conscience. It’s as if these regular stops are reminding my soul that God is always aware of me in an even greater way than my little mind is aware of Him.
- Do you find it easy or difficult to pray throughout the day?
- What are the practices of habits that you engage to bring you back into knowing the presence of God?
i happened to have a quick coffee with a beautiful friend who is from Sweden. she told me that what we refer to as “Good Friday”, they call “Long Friday”. I don’t know about you, but word swaps like this can make all the difference for me. Long Friday is exactly what Jesus tormented trial and crucifixion must have been.
not to make anywhere near as significant a comparison, but i was brought to mind today the delivery of my last child. it was a scheduled C-section. it was both weird and unsettling for me to anticipate the exact hour and moment of my son’s arrival into the world, as compared to my other three non-scheduled deliveries. there were moments of dread mixed with a holy anticipation of meeting this new life for the first time. but the calculated operating room felt completely foreign to me. there was little there that made me feel natural in my own skin and i was instantly wishing i could run. i felt awkward and fully awake. i felt pain. i felt that my person hood was secondary to the procedure that was going on. and i had to keep going forward.
until my nurse midwife arrived and signaled for me to push.
i promise, no more details in this post, but suffice to say, there was a birthing moment when all of the pain and the confusion and the dread and the pressure lifted physically and supernaturally… and just like all of my other children arrived, so this new life was born.
for those who have loved Jesus for so long, this day of Long Friday is one where we anticipate with some dark dread to what’s coming. even those of us who live in this side of the cross, it seems unnatural and alarming that such events could take place upon the Son of God.
the crucifixion is real. we can see it and imagine it and read it and know it. it is as real to us as the resurrection on Sunday. we know that there will be a transformation of Jesus life. we know that Jesus does not stay in pain or in death or in darkness. but today does not feel that way when we meditate throughout the day and into evening the gravity of Jesus alone on the cross. it is awkward and painful to watch and how much more so for a singular man, Jesus, to endure.
be we watch and we wait for new life to come anyway.
Look hard at Jesus, especially as he goes to his death, and you will discover more about God than you could ever have guessed from studying the infinite shining heavens or the moral law within your own conscience.
You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship……When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive.
I had an opportunity to pray with my neighbor for her migraine. I simply laid my hand on her brow and smiled. I prayed inside, asking the God of comfort to come and give her a sound mind. I breathed in and out slowly, and she started to do the same. Her bleary eyes started to clear and she actually appeared to gain her vision. I kept my hand on her head while our collective children ran about the yard laughing and shouting.
A holy moment in ordinary life. A moment on the porch when we just need each other. A place where our children are present but not in the way and we can care for each other in a place of deep pain. Simple. Healing. Touch.
Condemning religious spirits come to me in droves during these simple acts of mercy. They try to convince me that I should be doing something more pious to let her know that I am a Christian and she should really come to church with me on Sunday. But another part of me trusts that the Holy Spirit is moving through my hands and into the deepest places of my neighbor’s need.
In the week proceeding Jesus’ death, the week on the church calendar that we observe right now, Jesus was all about the business of healing people. He was in the temple doing things that made religious people really really mad. He turned over the tables of merchants who had turned the temple into a place that it was never meant to be. He let children shout and make loud noises. He talked about His authority to do exactly what He was doing. And people couldn’t stop Him.
We know the end of the story. Death couldn’t stop God’s love reaching out to humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So in our ordinary lives, as ordinary followers of Jesus, how are we joining in His unstoppable ministry? Where are the places where we feel shut out by religious rules that Jesus has already overturned? Where do we see the Kingdom coming through simple acts of justice, grace, and hope?
Holy Holy Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come.