When I lived in Durham, my spiritual director was a 70 year old Catholic nun of the old school, who was tough enough to call me on my own foolishness. One of the most memorable incidents came when I complained to her about a feeling of disconnection in my prayer life. The conversation went something like this:
Her: How often do you pray?
Me: (shrug) Um…sometimes?
Her: Do you have any other relationship in your life that you expect to be healthy if you never speak to the other person? If you never even check in for a few minutes?
Suffice to say that the point was made. And that point lies behind Trinity’s Lenten programming this year. I encourage you to use this time to develop the discipline of checking in with God — every day — if only for a few minutes.
By now, you may have picked up a copy of the “Prayer Book Lent” booklet that Adam Bond and I have put together for your use this season.
This week, as Lent gets underway, I would like to offer a few suggestions about how to incorporate the material in the booklet into your spiritual life.
For beginners, families, or those with limited time: If you’re just starting out, pick one of the daily prayer services — morning, noon, evening, or night — and commit to saying it every day. You can also include one of the daily Scripture readings listed in the back, or if you’re very pressed for time, you can stick with meditating on the “little chapter” in the service itself. If you choose one of the Scripture readings from the lectionary, keep going through either the Old Testament, Epistle, or Gospel. It’s better not to jump around.
For a more intensive experience: If you’re looking for a longer or more intensive devotional practice, try either saying more than one service every day or reading more than one Scripture lesson. You can even read the Old Testament in the morning and the Gospel in the evening, or other combinations.
In prayer, the key is to find a practice that works well for you to do consistently. My usual practice is to say Morning Prayer every day, plus Evening Prayer some days with the students at PTS. When I worked for the government, I prayed every weekday at noon in my office. Some commuters find prayer on the train to be a helpful way to spend that time. For families with children, dinner time or bedtime might be appropriate. Different practices work best for different seasons in our lives, but the most important thing is to find a practice that works for you and stick with it — every day.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. Canon Dr. Kara N. Slade