Psalm 56

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?

Psalm 56:8

One of the psalms for Morning Prayer today was Psalm 56. My life gives context to the psalms I pray during Morning and Evening Prayer. They become my prayer. I am always struck by how the psalms are extremely human – they embrace the whole of human experience, including a life with depression and anxiety.

Verse 8 really struck me as appropriate to my life at the moment. In uncertain and complicated situations God is present. I can try to control things – I can work through the millions of options. And God knows how stressful life can be. Yet, the good news is that God is not distant or removed from my life. He is right in the midst of it. In fact, He is “in me”. The intimacy of the relationship is echoed again and again in the psalms. God is right there in my stress and tears.

I needed to hear that today.

praying …

One of the things I love about being Anglican is the tradition of prayer. Yes, all Christians pray – or should, at least. And praying the Canonical Hours is not an Anglican only thing. Catholics have the Liturgy of the Hours and the Orthodox have their version. I think what sets Anglicans apart is the tradition of praying together. I like the tradition of daily morning and evening prayer as a community activity. Anglicanism is priest and people gathered around Jesus to pray every morning and evening.

While the ideal of a congregation at prayer is somewhat removed from the modern context, I like praying using a book other people are using. I like the community that uses the same Prayer Book as me. I like that I am united to my priest and clergy at my parish through the Prayer Book. And I like that while I am alone – and, let’s face it, I like being alone when I pray – I am with people around Jesus.

So as I pray today, I pray for you. The people who read this blog and the people in my life who support me. And the people who do not support me but that I pray for anyway. That Jesus’ love may strengthen you in faith, and that your heart may be open to Him.

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The first psalm at Evening Prayer was Psalm 13. I thought I would share as it really spoke to me tonight. My life gives context to the words of the psalm. My disappointments and pains is what the psalm is all about – it speaks for me to God. And it speaks for God to me.

Surrendering to Jesus

A lovely person emailed me this video today. I have been thinking of Ignatius’ Surrender Prayer recently. I have been trying to consecrate the day to Jesus before I get up – a sort of spiritual wake-up call. And I have been wondering whether I should use my own words or something like the prayer above. I am not against either option – I am formed in a liturgical form of Anglicanism and that is my natural home, and I have no problems with using tears to pray.

The video is a little on the long side but it is worth watching. Even only for the first 6 minutes or so.

Maybe you have a Jesus filled day!!!

the psalter

I like the tradition of prayer the Prayer Book gives to me. The rhyme of prayer – morning and evening – is central to the Anglican expression of the “catholic faith”. I have always appreciated that the psalms are part of this daily cycle of prayer. The psalms, more than any other part of Scripture, embody how the individual feels before God. Maybe because the psalms, unlike the rest of the Bible, do not have a particular context. Yes, they were used in the temple but often my life sets the context for the psalm, sets the context for my prayer using the psalms.

So this morning Psalm 143 was one of the psalms. I was struck by these verses, especially in the light of my previous post:

For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Psalm 143:3-6

I identify with the darkness about which the psalmist speaks. I know that feeling of my heart dropping. And my spirit faints within me – I am overwhelmed and have no more energy to go on.

This psalm is my prayer today. Like the psalmist I am sitting in darkness crushed to the ground. And, like the psalmist, I look for the Lord to come to me and refresh me like the rain does to a parched land. I remember the mighty acts of God in Jesus and how He is my Helper now.

Morning Prayer

I said Morning Prayer outside today. It was extremely windy so I had to stop my Prayer Book from being blown away. I used to be very fanatic about saying Mattins and Evensong – same time, same place, with full ceremonial – making my prayer life ever more and more complicated and involved. I wonder if I was trying to impress God or convince myself.

The simple form for every day in APBA is great – simple and not too involved. I use a very simple calendar and only keep a few festivals apart from the major ones. I read only the New Testament reading. The liturgical purest that was me would be horrified.

I like that the rhyme of prayer shapes my life. Morning and Evening Prayer are part of my Rule of Life. I try to say Prayer at the End of the Day (Compline) but often I forget or I am too tired. I have used Evening Prayer as a time to pray for people – people who have asked for my prayers and the people in my life. I also use the time to sit in silence and just “be”.

Life has taught me that it is not about the “how” of prayer (Prayer Books etc) but rather the “why” – my desire for intimacy with Jesus. My daily routine of praying sets the foundation for my life and also reminds me of Who is important. Using APBA is an act of obedience – I use what our parish uses – and also frees me up. It gives me the freedom for time with Jesus rather than maintaining some arbitrary tradition.

What do you use for your daily time with Jesus?

… does in fact please you

To be honest, I have found prayer very hard for most of my life. I have tried to “intellectualise” it and go searching for the perfect prayer book or liturgy. This made prayer ever more and more complicated and involved. Naively I thought that the more complex it was the more God must want to listen. It never worked as the bookshelf of prayer books will testify.

Recently I have started using the standard Prayer Book for Australian Anglicans – A Prayer Book for Australia. It has an order of Morning and Evening Prayer for every day of the week. The Psalms are divided over a longer period than older versions of the Prayer Book.

Maybe it is not about “how” we pray but “why” we pray that matters?

This morning I thought about how I feel that I am a little “aimless” at the moment. A time of waiting and I do not really enjoy waiting. And Thomas Merton’s Prayer came to mind:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton

I have always been struck by the phrase “does in fact please you“. The desire for communion, for intimacy with God, for openness, does please God. And this desire sets the tone of daily life.

Prayer is not about getting somewhere but about being in the presence of God. The “how” of prayer is less important than the desire to be open in prayer – to listen and speak with God in intimacy. I like the obedience of using a Prayer Book and it is very much within my own personal tradition. But it is not the how but rather the desire to set aside time to rest.

Like Merton, I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

Morning Prayer

I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Luther’s Morning Prayer

Australian Daily Prayer

I just wanted to share this website:

Australian Daily Prayer

It has Morning and Evening Prayer from the current Australian Prayer Book. It is a useful introduction into praying using the Prayer Book. It also has a solid selection of Scripture readings.

After many years of trying, changing, adjusting, Prayer Books to suit me I have come to the conclusion that it is much more important to pray – and using a Prayer Book suits me – than ‘how’ one prays. God hears the heart!