Monday, 8 December 2008

A Guide to Prayer and Certain Advent Blessings

After having used and enjoyed the St James Daily Devotional Guide for a two year cycle, this Advent I have decided to change back to A Guide to Prayer (The Upper Room, 1983) by Reuben Job and Norman Sawchuck. There are two versions, one "for ministers and other servants" and one "for all who are seeking God." My dear daughter, Kate, gave me the minister's one for Christmas a few years ago.

Format for Daily Prayer

The guide provides a format for each week according to the seasons of the church year as follows:
  1. an Invocation prayer, a mixture of ancient and modern, to be prayed daily

  2. a psalm, also to be prayed daily and to be "lived with" throughout the week. I'm happy to note that there is no effort to spare my sensitivities by avoiding the "bloodthirsty" ones. I believe it's important for us to engage with these psalms so we can deal with our own bloodthirstyness…our anger, bitterness and hatred. 

  3. a short, daily Scripture reading for Monday through Saturday which supports the theme for the week and is "specifically related to the spirituality and life experience of a person engaged in ministry." 

  4. Sunday readings according to the three year cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary. 

  5. readings for Reflection from people like Nouwen, William Barclay, Teresa of Avila and Richard Foster. 

  6. a time for prayer

  7. reflection: silent and written

  8. a hymn

  9. a Benediction

An Encouragement for Today

Today, from St Teresa of Avila in the Readings for Reflection, an encouragement:
God teaches us at times when we are engaged in prayer; however feeble such prayers may be, God values them highly. 
Yesterday I got a glimpse of that valuing in Ed and Carmen's sharing and in a surprise visit from the Lee and Carolyn Wallis, who were at Kuranui College at the same time I was forty six years ago.

The LORD does seem to value our awkward daily attempts at prayerfulness even when He seems to be silent. I suspect that expertise is not what He values; just you and I making the effort in the midst of our messy joys and sorrows.

A good Advent thought, methinks.

A Lovely Rubric

And an added blessing for me was the rubric from aforementioned dear daughter Kate that came with my copy of the Guide (I've kept the sticky note inside the front cover) which said:
If received before Dec 25, please place under the tree and discard the white envelope in the small gift bag with gold squares upon it. Then, open and enjoy on Dec 25.

If received after Dec 25, please open immediately and enjoy. 
I followed the instructions to the letter, of course. I love my daughter and the way she thinks.