|A Prayer Diary||
Mt. Auburn Cemetery
On Thursday I will be on retreat for three nights at SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist), a monastic community affiliated with the Episcopal Church, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
We are a community of men giving our whole selves over to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rooted in the ancient monastic traditions of prayer and community life, and critically engaged with contemporary culture, we seek to know and share an authentic experience of God’s love and mercy. We live a common life shaped by worship, prayer, and our Rule of Life.
I will stay in a room in their guest house, eat meals in silence with the brothers, and attended the daily office with them. That’s all I know. I assume I will spend time in silence, praying reading, walking, and sitting in the guest garden along the Charles River. That’s what I assume. I have nothing planned other than that.
Praying in the mystery
In our prayers we often admit that although God already knows the situation, we’re going to pray anyway. We may be serious, but when I think about praying such a prayer, I feel disingenuous. At best, such a prayer helps me be more compassionate toward the person or situation prayed for. In other words it helps me, and for sure I need help in that area.
If that is the most that prayer does, however, I will remain an egocentric person because I am praying for my own salvation. Maybe I’ll be moved to help the person or situation, but there has to be more.
Let’s look at this another way. What happens when we believe that our prayer has an affect on God, that in some mysterious way we can change God. I say mysterious because I keep my prayer in the mystery. My words are brief and unspecific; they touch on asking for love. I visualize light and love surrounding the person or situation. I breathe. That’s it. In faith I know that my prayer is heard; in hope I know that my prayer is answered; in love I know that all is well.
I haven’t posted in the last few weeks but I have been praying, which seems like the most satisfying, comforting and hopeful thing I can do these days. I start the day with good intentions but then life happens and I get distracted. But then, I get called back. It has to be God doing the calling because I know I’m too self-involved to take much credit. And yet, I do believe that God is giving me a say in this prayer life of mine; God does not have robots! Rather I (all of us) am called to co-create with God.
I have my cues (I’d use the word triggers except I’m trying to stay away from war metaphors) to help me remember God; my meditation time which has become hardwired into my life; my little post-it prayer list that I write each day; the Jesus prayer that arises from my subconscious; and my daily walk.
What signals do you have in your life to remind you to pray and lift yourself from worry and despair that arises when you think human kind, including yourself, is running the show?