Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of Office

This week I wrap up this 30-day experiment of praying through the daily office. I have not rigorously kept the schedule [three prayers a day]. Usually I would pray at the beginning of the day and at midday. The prayer I most often missed was the evening prayer. I found myself too tired as I prepared for bed to muster the strength to pray.

I discovered that I do like the rhythm of intentionally returning to God to spend some time in prayer. It helped keep me centered, and allowed me to feel the rhythm of life better. However, I usually didn't love the written prayer. It was difficult to pray the words, and not just read them.

So, going forward, I'll probably keep the morning prayers going, using the book as a guide. But at midday, I will probably spend some time in personal prayer or lectio divina-type prayer and reading. That's the plan!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This morning, I was listening to sports talk radio [as I often do]. They were talking about connectivity between a certain player, and the number of wins he accounted for. Essentially, they were saying that this connectivity gave you a good idea of his worth to the organization.

It made me begin to think about connectivity and worth in an organization. Of course, this has real job application. If you're in sales, then your worth is the connection between you and the amount of advertising revenue you generate.

I think there is application in the church as well for staff people. What is the relationship between any staffer, and the amount of good works done by the church, the amount of ministry "produced", or even the amount of people who begin or recommit to a relationship with Christ.

Futhermore, we should all be able to find our worth in God's economy, by measuring the amount of ministry we are doing. The number of good deeds we do, the amount of love we show to neighbors and family, etc. This will give us an idea of what our current worth in God's kingdom. Not our worth as holy and loved people of God, but what value we're bringing to the Kingdom.

Churches might be able to measure their worth in God's kingdom this way as well. What is the connection between our church's existence and local graduation rates, divorce rates, homelessness, hunger, etc. Are we worth much in the community, when measured this way?

It's a bit of a cold and utilitarian approach, but I think it does have some merit.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Our worship team was recently talking about the concept of beholding, as in beholding God. Holding God and the world in a meditative, receptive gaze. Being fully alive and fully present in our world, moment by moment.

We talked about how incredibly difficult this can be for many of us in our fast-paced society, where instant gratification is the standard. We drive fast, talk fast, walk fast, eat fast, sleep little, and hurry, hurry, hurry through our lives. We blast through our work week, desperately waiting for the weekend, so we can jam pack as much recreation as we can into our schedules. Then we wake up on Monday and do it all over again. This leaves us, as a people, hurried, distracted, and frantic.

This is not the abundant life offered in Jesus.

One of the biggest ways to combat this distracted desperation is the principle of slowing. One might even call it a spiritual discipline. Slowing is an intentional effort to slow down the pace of life, in order to be more present in the moment, to see the God who is in all things, and to hear God's stilll small voice.

I have found that when I do things more slowly [eat, drive, talk, work], I manage to restore sanity to my soul, moment by moment, bit by bit. I feel more human and alive. I am able to approach everything from the overflow of my soul, rather than forcing my work and life through the fumes of exhaustion. I am able to work restfully, play restfully, minister restfully, pray restfully. I begin to see color and smell aroma and breathe again. I begin to see people's innate goodness and beauty, and see the image of God in others.

I'll share some practical ideas on this subject in upcoming blogs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reflections on the Daily Office

So I'm about a week into this daily office praying, and so far, it has been going well. Certainly, since the prayers I'm saying are mostly written down, and I'm just praying through them, there is a tendency at times for my mind to wander. Probably no more than when I just pray spontaneously.

There are two things I am enjoying about praying at specific intervals throughout the day. The first is the rhythm. I am enjoying bringing my focus back to God three times a day. Beginning the day and ending the day are especially meaningful to me. It makes the whole day feel more enveloped in God's presence. Also, the return at midday to a focus on God and on my heart, and our relationship, etc. That has been good as well. I'm also finding myself more mindful of God's presence throughout the day, and am therefore communicating with God more frequently during the day. Most of these prayers are sentence prayers, or "flash" prayers, but they are also good for returning my focus to God.

The second things I like about this kind of praying is the priority it takes, if one is going to practice it faithfully. I have to take time out from my morning, my time in the office, and stay up a few minutes longer, in order to pray these prayers. And something about that feels right. I am forced to pray regularly.

All in all, a good first week for praying the daily office.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Daily Office

I am doing a 30-day experiment. I have read a lot about praying the daily office, and have even done it from time to time, but never for an extended period of time. However, I have decided in the month of August to pray the office every day. For those unfamiliar with the practice, it is essentially periods of prayer [typically about 10-15 minutes] that are set at regular times or intervals throughout the day.

For example, each day, I will pray through scripted morning prayers, midday prayers, and evening prayers. It is a very liturgical approach to prayer, but I think these structures might help me to embrace more rhythm in the spiritual life.

I will not be a stickler about doing the prayers at specific times [although that might be additionally helpful]. Instead, I'll start each day with morning prayers. After lunch [whenever lunch happens], I will have midday prayers. Then before bed each night, I will pray my evening prayers.

The resource I am using is Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. I like it because it is justice-centered and Kingdom-of-God-focused. It is also contemporary, has special insights on each day, and schedules time for praying for others and silence for meditation within its structure. All in all, it appears to be an awesome resource.

I know some don't like the recitation of prayers, because it feels stiff or formal, or insincere, but I've never had a problem using these prayers. In fact, I have found that they often give voice to longings and emotions, and thoughts that I struggle to convey to the Lord.

I am committing to it for 30 days, and will report on my experiences here on my blog. We'll see!