My Favorite Prayer

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring
forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I
am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still,
help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it
patiently.  And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. 
Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit
of Jesus.  Amen.

This prayer is from the Book of Common Prayer, page 461.

I love it. It’s my favorite prayer.

It fits where I am almost every day.

It validates whatever kind of day I’m going to have.

It doesn’t value the day based on how productive I am, or how much I get done, or even how good I will be.

It reminds me that every day, all God asks of me is to show up. In big moments, in little moments, in quiet moments, in bored moments.

Also, I love how it ends. I love to end all my prayers with: “and give me the spirit of Jesus.”

Does this prayer resonate with you today? Do you have a favorite prayer?

Real Life Morning Prayer

This is what my real-life Morning Prayer practice looks like. It’s messy, I get interrupted, and it’s not very quiet. But I’ve committed to saying Morning Prayer each day, no matter what.

I’ve always struggled to have a consistent, daily prayer practice. I’ve always yearned for the consistency of a daily practice, but never could quite find what that daily practice would be.

In the past six months, I’ve finally found that saying Morning Prayer is my daily prayer practice.

My goal is to say Morning Prayer before noon each day, and I track the days I follow through by bubbling in a chart on my refrigerator.

Have you ever said Morning Prayer at home? You can say it by yourself, with your spouse or roommate, with your kids. I often say it as George, our 1 1/2 year old, eats breakfast. It usually takes me ten minutes.

If you have a Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer starts on page 79 with the confession. The book takes you through each section of the prayer, but if you aren’t used to using the book, I suggest using a website or app like Forward Day by Day, which puts all the readings and prayers together in an easy-to-follow format. Click here to read Morning Prayer for today, February 6, 2020.

There is an even simpler form of Morning Prayer in the BCP on page 137. You can also go to https://bcponline.org/, click “The Daily Office” on the left side of the page, then select “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families.”

Saying Morning Prayer has become like breakfast – a necessary part to start my day. It gives me the spiritual nutrients I need to remind myself of my baptism, to reorient me to God’s love each new day.

As you can see in the photo above, my Morning Prayer practice isn’t very Instagram-worthy. It’s not photogenic, there’s no serene sunrise or quiet, peaceful moment. I usually fit it in between changing diapers, getting ready for work, and wrangling a toddler. It’s not perfect, but perfect isn’t the goal.

Do you have a daily prayer practice? What is it? What is your biggest challenge in committing to a daily prayer practice?

It’s My Birthday

This week I turned 31.

I have always loved my birthday (maybe a little too much), thinking of it more as a birthmonth than a birthday. I’ve always loved the idea of celebrating being alive. January 27 has always felt almost magical, infused with the love my parents had that brought me into the world, and the love that has sustained me every year.

In our fast-paced, oversaturated world, it’s important to find moments during the day, and days during the year, for intentional reflection. Your birthday is a perfect opportunity for prayerful accounting of our lives. Where has God been moving in my life? What am I being led toward this year? What have I learned since my last birthday?

This year, I’m using this reflection by Joyce Rupp in Out of the Ordinary to guide my birthday reflections. I have three friends who have the exact same birthday as me (Kara! Jeff! Carrie!), but if it’s not your birthday this week, bookmark this and come back to it on your special day. I recommend writing down your answers in a journal. Or, you could write your reflections on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope, then look at it on your next birthday.

“I look back upon the past year, through the many ups and downs, and I gather my significant memories – people, events, inner stirrings, dreams, jolts, joys, heartaches, etc. – all that touched my life in any sort of special way.

As I look over my year:
I am especially grateful for…

I am amazed at…

I am puzzled by…

I wish that…

As I look toward the coming year:
I long for…

I hope that…

I trust…

I promise…

I ask…

Now pause and visualize a messenger of God drawing near to you. This messenger bears a blessing of God for your coming year. Receive the blessing from the messenger. Spend some time in quiet, allowing the blessing to permeate your entire being.

To conclude this reflection, write a short prayer in your journal or on a paper that you will keep and refer to each month on the date of your birthday (e.g., if your birthday is the tenth of May, on the tenth of each month you would read your birthday prayer and remember the blessing that was given to you). Now go and celebrate!” (Out of the Ordinary, by Joyce Rupp, page 45)

Here is the birthday prayer I wrote for myself this year after sitting quietly with God. I will read it on the 27th of every month this year (I put a reminder in my calendar so I won’t forget!):

May you have tears
release
relief from pain
may your presence relieve
the pain of others

May you know your own
goodness
enoughness
belovedness
feel the ground supporting
your spine

Feel the release of slipping into
sleep
as you slip into
love

This is my prayer for you –
notice
slip into wakefulness
like you slip into sleep.
gently. freely.
physically felt
love.

What are you looking for?

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ 39He said to them, ‘Come and see.’

What are you looking for?

Jesus asks us this question. Jesus asks you this question, today, wherever you are reading this.

What are you looking for?

Are you looking for connection in what has become a lonely, isolating world? Are you looking for meaning amid the chaos and instability of life? Are you looking for hope in a world that often feels hopeless? 

I am looking for Jesus in a world that feels less and less certain the older I get. I am looking for Jesus, who I find whenever I am quiet enough to really see, to really listen.

I am looking for Jesus because I have encountered Jesus in my life, in painful moments when everything fell apart, and I was somehow held in love. I have encountered God in a stranger, in the stories from the Bible, and within my own soul in prayer.

A rule of life helps bring me back, day in and day out, to my journey of seeking Jesus.

Maybe you’re right at the beginning of the journey of faith, still asking: what does God have to do with my life? Maybe you aren’t sure where you are on the journey of faith.

Here is a tool to use to reflect on where you are on the path. Take this survey to begin reflecting on your own spiritual journey. The results are private, and it’s not a test – there is no right answer.

So where are you on the journey of following Jesus? What are you looking for?

My Rule of Life

My challenge to each of us this January: write down a rule of life that will help us grow deeper in our faith.

(What is a rule of life? Read this first.)

A rule of life gives order and intention to our lives of faith.

Because the truth is, we all already have a rule of life. We may not be aware of it, but we all have one.

What do you do when you first get up in the morning? Brush your teeth, make coffee, scroll Instagram? What do you do on your morning commute? Listen to the news, drink coffee, make work calls? How do you get ready for bed? Watch TV, scroll Instagram, read? (you can tell I love Instagram and coffee too much)

We all have habits and routines, whether we are intentional about them or not.

The point of creating a rule of life is to be thoughtful and intentional about how we spend our time.

The truth behind creating a rule of life is that faith isn’t just something we do on Sundays from 10 – 11. Faith is, instead, a trellis that can give structure and meaning to our lives.

A rule of life reminds us that our faith doesn’t just govern big moments of our lives. Our faith can also guide the small, mundane moments of our lives. And when we are thoughtful about how we structure our lives, faith becomes the trellis that our lives can grow on.

So today, take out a piece of paper and write down your rule of life. Here’s a template:

I desire a relationship with God that is: _____________________ (fill in the blank: grounding, challenging, steady, exciting, encourages me to grow, etc)

My faith guides me to ____________________ daily (fill in the blank: what spiritual practice will you commit to doing every day? Say Morning Prayer; light a candle; pray for five minutes in silence)

As a disciple of Jesus, I will ___________________ weekly (fill in the blank: what spiritual practice will you commit to doing every week? Attend worship at my church; volunteer for an hour; write a letter to a far-away friend)

Because I want to love God, love others, and love myself, I will _________________ monthly (fill in the blank: what will you commit to doing every month? Spend ten minutes reflecting on where I saw God moving in the past month; write a letter to God/Spirit/Love; turn off my phone for an hour)

If you come to St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea this Sunday, we will do this exercise together. But wherever you are in the world, you can join me – write down your own rule of life.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

It can change as your life changes.

What is your rule of life?

One Little Thing

A rule of life is like a trellis, the framework upon which our spiritual lives can grow. 

A rule of life gives order to our lives, so that we can dance and move creatively within the borders of our rule.

What does a rule of life actually look like?

Last week, we answered the question: How would I describe the relationship with God that I desire and seek?

Moving from your answer, this week we are going to identify one little thing we can incorporate into our daily lives that will bring us closer to the kind of relationship with God that we seek.

Fill out this simple form:

Three words to describe the kind of relationship with God that I desire:

One little thing I can do each day that brings me closer to that kind of relationship:

The time of day I will do that one little thing:

Here’s my answer:

Three words to describe the kind of relationship with God that I desire: grounding, growing, challenging

One little thing I can do each day that brings me closer to that kind of relationship: set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in silence.

The time of day I will do that one little thing: after I brush my teeth at night

Feeling stuck? Here is a list of spiritual practices you might try as your one little thing:

  • lighting a candle (yes, it can be this simple)
  • set a timer and sit quietly for five minutes
  • turn off your phone for one hour
  • doodle
  • lectio divina (prayerfully reading a small portion of the Bible)
  • go for a walk without headphones and notice
  • pay attention to your breath. breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for a count of four, hold for four. this is called square breathing.
  • write a letter to God
  • say the Lord’s Prayer

This week, try doing your one little thing each day. Is it difficult to make this commitment? Do you sense God’s presence differently in your life when you add this one little thing?

Remember: our relationships with God are not about doing the right thing, and we don’t always need to make huge changes in order to follow a rule of life. 

What’s your one little thing? Share it with one other person this week.

peace,

Mother Mary Lynn

Join the Year of Discipleship

January 1st often feels like a good time to start something new.

It can also be intimidating – what will my resolution be? How will I be the best version of myself in this new year?

Maybe the invitation this new year isn’t to the “best version of you,” but to walk closer to Jesus.

I often make new year’s resolutions, but quickly abandon them.

This January, instead of setting unrealistic goals, I’m going to build a rule of life.

What is a rule of life?

The Anglican monastic community The Society of St. John the Evangelist has great resources for building a rule of life.

This January, we will take this one step at a time, together.

This week, take time to answer this question by journaling:

How would I describe the relationship with God that I desire and
seek?

Here’s my answer: I desire a relationship with God that gives my life meaning and purpose, a relationship that grounds me and keeps me steady amid the chaos of my life. I desire a relationship with God that challenges me, that points my steps in the direction of justice, that brings me out of myself into relationship with others and with the world around me. I seek a relationship with God that isn’t perfect but is full of grace; a relationship where I can be honest about my struggles, my addictions, and my sins, and where I can find true forgiveness. I desire a relationship with God that grows with me as I grow, changes with me as I change. I seek a relationship that reminds me, over and over again, that my life is part of the bigger story of God’s love for the world.

What’s your answer? Share in the comments, with someone you love, or with me! Send me an email and let’s have coffee and talk about our rules of life!

to 2020, the year of discipleship,

Mother Mary Lynn

More information about building a rule of life: https://episcopalchurch.org/files/living-intentionally.pdf

Author, Spiritual Director, and grandmother Margaret Guenther speaks about how valuable a “Rule of Life” can be even for those of us pursuing a spiritual life without living in a formal religious community.