Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Thoughts on Prayer

Ember season is coming up, so I'm starting to get some thoughts down early for my letter. That's one thing I can say, I guess. I have been planning my letter for a few weeks now, close to a month. Just making mental notes of things to include. For those who don't know, Episcopal postulants are required to be in communication with their bishops four times a year, during the Ember Days. They're relative to certain feasts and fasts. If you want to know which ones, Google it. :) One of the things going in my Ember Day letter is my prayer life and how it's strengthened by being at the General Seminary.

I know I've talked about it with Fr. Warnke, my spiritual director, and I feel like I may have blogged about it, but I may have just been talking to other people. All of my classes start with a prayer, and some end with one. My day starts with Morning Prayer in the Chapel most mornings, and I say Evening Prayer at the close of my workday. I usually go to mid-day Eucharist. Basically I'm surrounded by prayer. Not only am I surrounded by prayer, I'm surrounded by the prayers. Most week's I'll hear the collect of the day 8-10 times, versus one on Sunday. If you haven't had that experience, let me tell you: it does something. The same way that consistently hearing the same eucharistic prayers gets into you so that you think more on the meaning of the words than the words themselves, same with the collects.

Although perhaps I shouldn't have been, I was surprised Friday morning when I sat down to read for class for the upcoming week and prayed. I don't remember what I prayed, but I prayed about guidance and illumination of Scripture. So I sat at Starbucks and read my textbook about the Latter Prophets and kept noticing the theme of humility and prayed
O God, you have spoken through the prophets and scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, give to us (especially me!) a sense of humility that I may serve you and others through Jesus, who served his disciples and washed their feet. Amen

It just felt like I needed to pray, and out popped a collect. I hadn't pre-written it, but the form is there. After praying I thought about something in The Noticer that Dr. Klein talked about in his class. If you want to be a good leader, read the biographies of leaders. I think if you want to learn to pray, read the prayer book. The Holy Spirit's interceding and giving words of prayers doesn't have to be spontaneous. Words that have comforted, consoled, and helped generations can help us, too. And I think that by learning forms of prayers and the content of prayers we can move beyond "me" praying and move beyond vending machine praying, and focus our prayers so that we aren't "Just asking you Lord to _____________" ad infinitum.

Am I perfect at praying? Goodness no. But I've noticed that I'm far more likely to pray as I go, without ceasing, as it were, now that I'm so immersed in a community that continues in the prayers. When I can't find words, I can find others' to make my own. And sometimes I have them, but am now able to organize them. My prayers are far more Trinitarian now, and I couch what I'm asking in a rationale and demonstrate a why (I'm very partial to collects).

Off to end my day with sung Compline.

No comments:

Post a Comment