Sunday, April 08, 2018
Daily Prayer x 5
This morning I'll be leading worship at Trenton United Church while our son Isaac, the pastor, is off on vacation (aka, moving into a new home.) Retired clergy dads are good for something!
Of course, we'll pray during the service because that's what Christians do when they come together on Sundays. Those of us who are moderately devout pray at other times during the week, sometimes in a regular discipline we used to call "daily devotions."
Can you imagine halting the hustle and bustle and distractions of each day to pray at five different points? That's what practicing Muslims do as one of the five pillars of Islam (Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, Pilgrimage to Mecca.) It's impressive, although not always appreciated by certain Christians. I once asked an anti-Muslim evangelical colleague if he wouldn't be impressed by congregants who prayed five times a day but he didn't consider it real prayer to a real God.
Kate Chance has worked in a Muslim community for the past few years and is impressed by this discipline, so decided to take it on as a Christian commitment during Lent. In her words:
...for me, prayer is very often something I stumble into when I’m upset, happy, worried, aggravated or in need of a deep breath and regrounding. I certainly wouldn’t refer to it as a ritual, aside from when I’m in church or before meals growing up. The more time I’ve spent around my Muslim friends, the more I’ve considered being more deliberate about my prayer life. So for Lent this year, I took a page from their (holy) book and prayed five times each day.
She set up her daily schedule using a Muslim prayer time app in combination with the Book of Common Prayer, the 16th century Church of England prayer book which is no longer used by most Anglicans congregations but has exceptionally beautiful wording.
It sounds as though the exercise was meaningful, challenging, and eye-opening:
It also explains a lot about the patience and compassion I’ve found in the Muslim community, as this style and ritual of prayer challenges individuals to take pauses throughout the day to center their mind on God and scripture. I’ve also learned that following this schedule is very, very hard. There were many days when I was out and about and completely forgot to pray, times I was tempted to rush or skip through prayer, and for a majority of days, I was late to finish each prayer. It was a powerful opportunity to step outside of my world and into relationship with God, and the more I practiced this the more I felt God’s presence with me throughout my day.
What do you think of Kate Chance's personal Lenten challenge? Are you a disciplined person of prayer?