Monday, 18 September 2017

Prayer habits

I have been using The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime (Phyllis Tickle ed) for a couple weeks now. Four sets of prayers a day: morning, midday, vespers (suppertime-ish), compline (bedtime). I thought at first it would be easy because each set only takes a few minutes (and before that I was reading 6 chapters a day plus a long list of prayers, so on average about an hour and 15 minutes at one go per day--I'm still doing that sometimes, too, but not stressing about it).

What I found is that four times a day, even with short times, is a hard habit to build. I have a busy home-based business to run (tutoring, editing and writing), family to take care of, and all the other day to day responsibilities of life.  While I try to be a scheduled person, it never ceases to amaze me how many "unexpected moments" in life pop up. Unexpectedly, of course. It is so easy to be distracted from small things. It is easier to remember to do things that take more time--but when it's just 5 or 10 minutes, it is easy to miss.

I am gradually getting into the swing of the divine hours though, and each time find them more helpful, and enjoyable, than previously. I have decided the advice to read them aloud is a really good idea ... it does make me feel that I am part of the church, knowing that others are also taking part. Though sometimes I wish they were here with me and I could literally hear them.

I have also heard that creating a bit of a "ritual" helps. I was brought up in an evangelical denomination in which "ritual" seemed to be kind of a "dirty word" because it was connected with "those liturgical churches." Later I realized that our order of service laid out each Sunday in the bulletin was kind of liturgical itself. But at least we didn't do things like burn candles, and have "images" hanging on the wall, or cross ourselves, or kneel on kneeling benches facing the altar (come to think of it, back in the day we knelt on the floor, with our hands folded on the pew, facing the back of the church...). And we certainly didn't have little altar corners in our homes. I guess some of that (pride or fear or a little of both) is still hanging onto the edges of my mind, for I'm nervous about taking that advice to light a candle, or have a special quiet place with a picture, or maybe a cross or whatever, to help me focus. But it seems to me that it really might help me remember, and focus... Yes, time to give it a try. I'll set it up, now.

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