In my preparation for teaching the Made to Flourish webinar series, I have been reading… actually, something more like studying the book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. It is one of those resources that has been able to makes sense of the sometimes mysterious spiritual disciplines (or practices) to me.
In her chapter on Prayer, this passage provoked fresh understanding of how prayer really is a central element of the Christian life. While I may have thought a life of prayer must mean calloused knees (and who has time for that?), the following quote matches more closely with my own experience of “praying unceasingly.”
It has become increasingly difficult for me to distinguish prayer as a spiritual discipline from all the others. The longer I journey in the spiritual life, the more I experience all of life as prayer and the other disciplines as different ways of praying.
Makes sense to me. Solitude, lectio divina, self-examen, Scripture reading… all different ways of praying and communing with God. Barton continues:
Solitude and silence help me experience the more contemplative elements of prayer. Lectio divina is a way of praying the Scripture. Self-examination is the prayer in which I invite God to search me and reveal those things I need to know about myself. Discernment is the listening part of prayer: sitting with a question or decision in God’s presence and waiting for the wisdom of God that is given as pure gift.
So, I like this bit of wisdom because it prevents me from seeing the spiritual disciplines as separate discreet things I must do to grow my life with God. Instead they become a collection, a variety of ways that I can be in dialog with the Caller.
God beckons us into a deeper relationship with him. He is inviting us into a life of meaning, purpose, and service. He calls us to me more fully ourselves, not in the way we have come to think we should be, but in the way that he always knew us to be.
If you are a pastor, consider joining me in the webinar series. If you aren’t, pick up Barton’s book and give it a good look. In either case, may you find yourself in prayer in all of life.