The New Year has been a great opportunity to go deeper in my faith. It has had a tremendous psychological benefit to start fresh with new practices to strengthen my faith. My friends and I have been discussing the three major emphases of the emerging church, as I understand them: Inward Journey (spiritual formation), Corporate Journey (community formation), and Outward Journey (missional action). While we have committed to meet weekly in a small group environment to further our pursuit of Biblical community, we are also trying to hold each other accountable for the Inward Journey. All of us may be utilizing different devotional practices, but we are all united in making time with God a priority in our daily lives.
For a couple months I have been enjoying the online daily prayer site, Sacred Space, provided by the Irish Jesuits. My only reservation is that it is very short. I have felt compelled to join the tradition of so many other Christ followers in Morning and Evening prayer. There is something about the rhythm of devotion that is very meaningful to me. This led me to research Celtic Spirituality more, hoping to find something akin to the Book of Common Prayer used by our Anglican and Episcopal brethren. I discovered Celtic Daily Prayer which is prayer and readings from the Northumbria Community.
The Northumbria Community is actually a dispersed community with Companions all over the United Kingdom as well as internationally. They describe their community as “a conscious attempt to find a practical modern expression of a new monasticism, which preserves an uncompromising allegiance to the imperatives of the Sermon on the Mount.” They are united by three fundamental commitments. The first common commitment is taking vows of “availability and vulnerability” both to God and others. The second commitment is to their “Rule, ‘A Way for Living,’ which embraces a dogged fidelity to the Sermon on the Mount as an expression of Christian discipleship.” The third commitment is to pray the Daily Office.
The Daily Office is primarily marked by Morning and Evening Prayers, but they also include Midday Prayer and the Compline (bedtime) which are optional. I would spare you my inadequate description of the Daily Office and urge you to pray it for yourself for a day, a week, or a season, as a fresh approach to your own spiritual formation.
You may be wondering like myself, how a former Southern Baptist pastor came to a structured repetitious prayer life. For me my prayer life has never been disciplined. It has often been taken hostage by my feelings and the circumstances of the day. While my conversation with God has always been ongoing in whispers throughout the day, I have been craving a deeper walk with Him. These devotional practices predate our modern program Christianity by hundreds of years. Though I have been guilty of being dogmatic in my beliefs in the past, I am not so arrogant as to believe we all have it right and the saints of the ages had it all wrong. There is a measure of comfort and strength in walking down a well trodden path, when you know it leads to the garden.
I am not promoting anything to anyone, just sharing where I am in my own personal journey. Today is the first day since I received my copy of Celtic Daily Prayer that I have actually prayed the Daily Office completely from Morning to Midday to Evening to Compline. I want to encourage you to find whatever works for you. Whatever time using whatever tool that helps you to prioritize and realize your time spent with God. I share this old Celtic blessing as a prayer for you:
O God, make clear to us each road.
O God, make safe to us each step;
when we stumble, hold us;
when we fall, lift us up.
When we are hard-pressed with evil,
and bring us at last to Your glory.