Monday, September 15, 2008

Sleep vs. Rest

I am slowly learning more about the daily office of prayer (prayers at certain times during the day is the only way I currently know to describe it). I find it very confusing growing up baptist and just now learning about it, but I am also really falling in love with the idea. I wouldn't say I exactly "get it" just yet so if any of you have suggestions I welcome them.

I have never really had trouble sleeping, but shutting my brain down enough to truly rest is more of a challenge to me. Somehow taking the last 12 minutes (or so) of the day to say "evening prayers" has made an enormous difference in the quality of sleep I get. Instead of just rambling on about my day and those on my heart (which nothing wrong with that) I find a written focused prayer to be very calming and mind clearing at the end of a hectic day. I fall asleep with His peace and presense instead of the worries of the day. I find saying pre-written prayers not to be unnatural and informal with the Lord as I'd feared, but rather deepening to my prayer life, to tell Him things I didn't even know were in my heart, and to connect with Him in a new way.

And God is so good. As if on que this is the article in Christianity today out this week on what? The Daily Office of Prayer! I love it. Thank you Lord for meeting me where I am and moving me forward!

Ceaseless praise
The daily office is not easy and it will not solve all problems. As Brother Emile says, "No matter how beautiful a prayer is, there's always going to be a need for perseverance, for commitment, for being faithful. There will be times when we don't feel the beauty. Then we pray the question rather than what we feel."
But even and especially then, Emile notes, we need to pray together: "People are not going to be able to persevere alone in personal prayer. In regular common prayer, you join together and take your part. Discouragement is too easy today. But in common prayer you support one another. We are never all at the same place. … This week I support you and next week I need your support."
The point is not a new works righteousness or meaningless formality. Rather, this practice can provide a way of prayer that will help some—perhaps many—pray. St. Benedict wrote of singing Psalms "in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices." The daily office can integrate life and prayer in just this way.
Or, to paraphrase a great old hymn, this might just be the way for God to "take our moments and our days; [and to] let them flow in ceaseless praise."
Arthur Paul Boers

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