At UKIRK Presbyterian Campus Ministry on the Tempe campus of ASU we have begun talking about practices of Christian faith. Last night we talked about different kinds of praying: from the Lord’s Prayer to silence and meditation to even running as prayer. We talked about the five different kinds of prayer often touted by Sunday School teachers and confirmation leaders: praise or adoration, repentance, petition, thanksgiving and intercession (we had trouble remembering them all, but at some point in the evening we got there).
It has me once again thinking about my own prayer life, which seems to ebb and flow like seasons. Sometimes I feel very connected to God like I’m living Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy to “pray without ceasing.” Other times I feel utterly alone like I’m in a desert with not a soul or being for hundreds of miles. Most of the time I’m somewhere in between.
The Christian calendar follows a similar flow: from “high season” like Christmastide and Eastertide, to what some might call low seasons of introspection, doubt, and silence like Lent. Most of the time we are in what is called “Ordinary Time.” During OT we are often engaged in relative regularity and ritual. You can notice these things in the liturgy for Sunday morning worship.
Many mornings, sadly not as regularly as I would like, I start my day with a moment of reading from the Daily Prayer Book published by the PC(USA)—I have it as an app on my iPhone. This morning it opened with the words from Psalm 124.8:
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
It’s a good reminder for me during this season of Ordinary Time, a time of leaning in to the regularity of ritual and tradition, seeking God in the ordinary routines of life. At a time when I am in the throws of writing my proposal for my Doctor of Ministry degree, trying to establish a campus ministry at ASU, raise a family with my life partner, and serve as faithfully as I can as pastor of UPC, I need that reminder that my help is in God and no other.
When I lean in to God’s wisdom, my daily discernment shifts and feels less frantic or urgent. When I lean in to God’s presence, I feel I am able to be less anxious in anxious situations. When I lean in to God’s grace, my perfectionist tendency are able to take a back seat and I am able to give more thanks than criticism.
So how do your prayer practices help you to lean in to God, to put your trust and hope in God? In a couple weeks we begin that introspective and contemplative season of Lent with our Ash Wednesday communion service on Feb. 18th at 7pm at UPC. As we look to this season, what do you hope God might reveal to you? How might a more robust prayer life help you connect with God’s hope for you?