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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Rhythmic Prayer: The exercises

The second chapter of my prayer journey is all about rhythm. The contrast between periods of work and rest creates gaps into which we can invite God.
These are the exercises that Gerard and Chrissie Kelly suggest in their book, which can allow us to fill the gaps in our lives with prayer.

Liminal Prayer: coming apart at the seams

Coming apart at the seams sounds like bad news! But in another sense, it's nothing but good news. Coming apart is an old-fashioned term for the life of prayer, and often the time to find moments to withdraw from the preoccupations of the day is the joining places. The moments between waking and sleeping, between home and work, the pause between appointments. These are liminal moments, stages between one state and the next and they most offer the chance of private thoughts in an otherwise public day. Can you identify some of the seams in your life that you can convert into prayer moments? Having done so, can you commit to using them with regularity? Every traffic light, two seconds before each meeting, the same bus ride every day. What about offering a silent prayer every time you cross a boundary or threshold?

Pause, rewind, play

There is great scope for creating “pause moments” in the day and habitually turning them to prayer. The time it takes to boil a kettle, to take a shower... In the Celtic tradition each of these would have its own prayer. There were prayers for lighting the fire, milking the cow, or washing your face. Perhaps we can create prayers like that for ourselves. Think about the “pause moments” that most regularly occur in your days and which of them could most easily be turned to prayer.

Spot the dot

We have done this before in church. We were invited to put a sticker on our watch, or our phone, or our glasses case, so that every time we saw it, it would remind us to pray. Would anyone like a new dot?The fishbowl of faithThe Kellys have a friend in London who used to feel guilty about all the people he promised to pray for. He had too many people on his list, and couldn't stick to a timetable. His ingenious solution was to find an empty fishbowl at home, and write the names of everyone he had committed to pray for on pieces of paper. Whenever he went out of his front door, he would pick a slip with closed eyes and pray for that person through the day.


The German mystic Meister Eckhart taught that “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'Thank you.' that would suffice.” Saying grace before meals can for some people be a rare island of gratitude in an ungrateful world. Some make a habit of praying on the last moment before sleep, thanking God for the warmth, security and comfort of a bed and for the home that allows a family to rest in peace. Some have learned in their first waking moments to pause and thank God for the new day. When Jesus broke bread and said “Do this in remembrance of me,” was he thinking about the service of Holy Communion, or something simpler? “Every time you see bread, think of me. Every time you break it, remember me.” Sew prayer into the very fabric of your day and you will find that fabric transformed.

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