Praying the Hours

Praying the Hours

I simply marvel at contemplatives. I started reading Richard Foster and Dallas Willard in college. I read their books and tried to emulate them. I determined that this time I would pray and fast.

This new commitment would follow a pretty “regular pattern.” No matter how determined I was to “push through,” I would find my mind wandering and my “newest commitment” to spiritual disciplines would fall to the side. Then I would feel guilty and shame. Then I would just ignore the disciplines for a while. As a pastor, I would at times find myself so busy “doing the work of God,” that I did not have time to spend with God.

After watching the movie “UP” I found a new expression that often describes my spiritual life. My spiritual metaphor is “SQUIRREL.” I get distracted by anything that runs past my window or across my computer screen.

I am not deceiving myself that because I am a distracted extrovert that I do not have to practice the spiritual disciplines. I am resonating with John Ortberg, “I hate how hard spiritual transformation is, and how long it takes. [1] I wish it was easy. I wish I could be more focused. But I know that spiritual formation is hard and there is a reason we use the term spiritual disciplines.

I have also come to the place that I have learned some things about myself. Rules for contemplatives, don’t always work for me. I have been told that I should pray sitting with both feet on the ground or kneeling. This works sometimes for me. More often, however, I pray standing. By standing, I can move, walk, and it helps me stay focused. I journal, but I often use images along with words because that helps me to focus. I pray the Psalms and use written prayers to help me center. I use resources like Phyllis Tickle’s, Divine Hours or explorefaith.org to provide me a starting point for my daily prayers.

Even with this, “SQUIRREL.”

Oh, back to what I was saying. Even with this, I get distracted. I start again. I try to take the guilt and shame out. Those are not words of a loving Father. I remind myself that I am God’s beloved child.

This morning, as I was “praying the hours,” I came across this simple prayer that I share with you:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen [2].

As you seek to be a Jesus’ follower, I hope that you find your own practices that draw you into God’s presence. I hope that you can let go of the “shoulds” and “can’ts” and just learn to walk with Jesus.

O Lord, let us learn to walk with you; each day, each step with you.

___________________________________________

[1] “Seven Things I Hate About Spiritual Formation | Leadership Journal,” accessed March 25, 2014, http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/april-online-only/seven-things-i-hate-about-spiritual-formation.html.

[2] “Explorefaith.org – 3/25,” accessed March 25, 2014, http://www.explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/hours.php.

 


Reverend Mike Oldham
Northern Front Range, Southeast Colorado & New Mexico Cluster
Ministry & Mission Coach
ABCRM Staff

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