This Sunday we begin twin series which we are calling iCulture and redefineOne. Through an engagement with Paul and James, we want to look at spiritual community against the background of individualism and selfishness in our culture. To enhance our consideration, we are asking you to participate in six practices that can nourish our community life. This week, we invite you to consider the practice of morning prayer as a primary way to ground and enhance our relational life with others. Consider this piece of practical wisdom from Psalm 5.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. [Psalm 5:3]
I find in this statement a way to live out the life of faith and community in practical simplicity. Perhaps it sounds trite to those who look for something deeper and more exotic, but the exercise of morning prayer, followed by attentiveness throughout the day, is a transforming way to live. Practice morning prayer, then, watch for God. Simple.
Perhaps like the proverbial arduous climb to see the guru on the mountain, many spiritual seekers would rather choose the difficult over the common and close at hand. I am not saying that the life of prayer is easy; we all find a natural built-in resistance to it. But even though we struggle with prayer, we should never see prayer as beyond us. Prayer is always as close as our breath, always as possible as the movement of our lips and the vocalizing of our heart to God.
So consider this statement from Psalm 5:3 as a transforming way to live. Do it this way:
Begin each day speaking out loud to God. Actually put your vocal cords to work and hear yourself praying. Address the one you cannot see, but who is really there. I find that the very physicality of this action -- the sound of my voice -- is important. When I do, my spirit and body become united before God, as do my mind and heart. So say your prayers in the morning, and say at least a portion of them out loud.
Then, tell God what you want, what it is you are looking for. Sometimes we are confused about this, and that is why speaking aloud helps. Let your ears hear what comes from the deepest part of you. Let your heart educate your mind. Do this as the first order of the day’s business, coming as you are from the silence of the night. One of the keys to living well is to know what it is we are really looking for. Sometimes we discover what we want as we speak.
And then, watch how the day unfolds. Spend your day looking for God, especially in the ways you interact with people, in the opportunities for conversation, in the moments you might insert encouragement or direction. Stay alert about this as you walk through your day. For you can stumble around, ignorant to most of what is happening (done that plenty). Or, you can carry your morning prayers with you, looking for ways to contribute meaningfully to others.
Praying in the morning and then watching in hope as the day unfolds is a simple way to live, but a profound one I think. Try it this week -- you will be amazed at how your contribution to others, how your experience of meaningful community is magnified by such a simple practice.
See you this Sunday at 9:29 or 11:11
Some questions for further reflection:
- How are your mornings? What is it like to be you in the morning? What do you look forward to in the morning? What do you dread?
- What is your prayer struggle? Or your prayer confusion? What could help you pray better?
- Here is a deep and rather penetrating thought: how do you “feel” about your use of time in a given day? Do you “feel” rushed”? Why? Do you “feel” that prayer is something you don’t have time for? Why? What could change this do you think?
- Who could you talk to God about tomorrow morning? What is stopping you from beginning this simple practice?