Yesterday’s study was all about morning prayer.
He was very determined that it had to be morning and not just some time later on in the day. Regardless of whether you are a morning person or a night person, he would say it makes no difference. Finding the time that suits you best is pandering to the flesh and surrendering to what is convenient rather than what is right.
My first response was “Not possible!” The time between getting up and leaving for work is already a busy time – preparing packed lunches, eating breakfast, watching the news and settling to a snatch of a quiet time. Getting up early would be an option if I was sleeping better. One of my nieces has a new born baby and comments on how well or how badly he sleeps at night. I sleep the required amount of hours and I dip into the dream part of the sleep, but it’s fragmented at best, waking up throughout the night. If I slept solidly through the night I could get up earlier.
I think part of the problem lies in confusion between what I call a quiet time and what he calls morning prayer. My quiet time makes use of Bible study notes and a pen and a journal and time to muse before I write something. His prayer is just prayer. My prayers tend to be rooted in the Word that I have read. I am not so good at praying off-the-cuff.
Morning prayer is necessary, says my friend Bonhoeffer, to set the day right. Prayer at the end of the day has something of the “after-the-horse-has-bolted-shutting-the-stable-door. It’s a mopping up, picking up the pieces, damage control kind of prayer. Much better to order the day before it begins and take the initiative. We make our declarations about the day ahead to set our minds and hearts to glorify God. Intention is woven into the fabric of the day. We are better equipped to deal with the challenges that come our way with a prepared mind-set.
I am challenged to look at my whole quiet time structure and the straitjacket time that I have made it. I am looking to be more flexible. I am stuck in a success criteria list based on how much I read or what I record in a journal. So, yes, flexibility sounds good.
I can’t help but wonder what Bonhoeffer might have made of last night’s half night of prayer hosted by Blue Flame last night. I suspect he might have asked why it was a half night rather than a whole night.
I discovered last night that although the girl in me left the Brethren Church many years ago, there is still a lot of the Brethren Church that hasn’t left the girl. Many of my friends have explored a whole spectrum of ways of connecting with God. I don’t know enough about what is happening in the spiritual realms when people dance with flags and ribbons. I am a woman of words. The spoken word and the written word stir me. I know the damage I can do with well-chosen words – or the healing I can bring about. I am quite traditional and conservative. There are a lot of things I haven’t tried and maybe it’s my next step to be a little more adventurous in my approach to prayer.
I forgot to put my hearing aids in before I left home which didn’t help. I titled my head and caught a word or two, but because I hadn’t clearly heard what they prayed for I wasn’t comfortable about jumping in with a loud “Amen”. I felt I couldn’t take up the baton and run my part of the race.
I think God had a very different agenda. He knows what I am like. He knows that a half night of prayer will appeal to me – to get me to a place. Ask me to pray, or to preach, or to lead worship and I am up for the challenge. I love to “do”. To ask me to just sit, and to listen, and “not do” is the bigger challenge. So I sat, and I listened and I did not “do” and I cried. I felt God very tenderly help me to take off the armour that I seem to always be wearing. We talked about the battles we had fought side by side throughout the week. We laughed at the ridiculous moments and the humour of the week. We had a silent minute or two to acknowledge the times when the enemy seemed to prevail. It was as if we weren’t in the room at all, but were two battle scarred soldiers propped up against a bar in a pub toasting each other with almost empty beer glasses.
I am God’s servant but at that moment I really had a sense of just being God’s friend.