Last Saturday, we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea in our parish hall. Thank you to Terry (who oversaw the planning and publicizing of this tea), to the members of her social events team (who so lovely set up the parish hall and cleared it up afterwards), and to all our parishioners who made sandwiches, baked treats, brought flowers, and contributed in other ways to this happy gathering of about 40. May God grant that this tea be the first of many joyful summer parish teas to come!
I was very happy to fulfill Helen Love’s request for a brief talk about the practices of praying daily and walking a labyrinth. Rooted in the Israelites’ practice of prayer daily at morning, midday, and evening, the first Christians found it essential to pray thrice a day. They offered praise, gave thanks, and made their requests to God, including for protection through the dark night.
In both large congregations and in monastic settings, the Church’s practice of daily prayer developed over time and became more complex. During the reformation of the Church of England, Archbishop Cranmer included forms of daily prayer in The Book of Common Prayer as early as the first Prayer Book in English (1549). Expecting all members of the Church (not just the ordained) to pray daily, Cranmer simplified the English Church’s practice – shaped by the Benedictine tradition of seven daily services – to call all to gather for morning prayer and evening prayer.
If you wish, you may follow an order of daily prayer in The Book of Common Prayer or The Book of Alternative Services. However, the key to the practice of daily prayer is to dedicate at least 5 minutes each day to being aware and reverent of, and intentional about paying attention to, God. It helps to choose a particular time and place at home for daily prayer, so that one can express one’s intention to be with God by going to that place at that regular time.
You can pray aloud or silently as you wish, but it is important to exercise the breadth of types of prayer. To recall some of those types, it helps to remember the word “ACTS”, which stands for 4 types of prayer: Adoration (praising God), Contrition (asking forgiveness for failing to love as God commands), Thanksgiving (thanking God for our many blessings – above all, God’s loving work of redeeming us), and Supplication (asking God to provide you and others what God knows we need). While we pray, we need also to try to be in L.A. – not Los Angeles, but Listening to God and Affirming our trust in God!
Next week, our Pastoral Care team and I will meet again to work on several matters, including the revival of a Circle of Prayer within our parish. We will invite our fellow parishioners to pray daily for those who have requested our prayer.
Prayer Circle members will receive the basic information that they need to pray for a fellow parishioner (for example, “seeks healing”). They will commit to using that information only for the purpose for which it has been given to them: compassionately and daily holding their fellow parishioners before God in expectant prayer that God will be gracious to them!
Following our tea, a dozen of us walked the labyrinth on the edge of our cemetery. We asked the Holy Spirit to use that pre-Christian pathway to help us to empty out our egos and thoughts, so that the Spirit would reveal to us afresh God’s love and wisdom, first made known to us in Christ Jesus. I hope strongly that we can schedule gatherings to walk periodically our labyrinth. However, with my time and space for the Good New on Thursday now at an end, I will save that for another week!
God’s peace, John+