Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Devotions

I have a hard time "doing" personal devotions. Either I'm in too much of a rush or I forget or because I'm a pastor I think I have to do them which feeds into my whole thing about expectations and what I'm supposed to do. But all that aside, I've never gotten into a regular habit of devoting. I write them, I like to look at them in bookstores and on my own shelves, thinking, "hmmmm.... that would be a good idea."

And then a couple years ago I led a women's retreat. As we talked about prayer and My Friend the Speaker pointed out that it can happen anywhere-anytime, even doing the most daily of things, I realized that I do devote.

I start almost every morning by checking my e-mail and reading a few precious blogs. They aren't all overtly Christian. Some of them make me laugh, others cause me to tear up on occasion. Regardless, in my own way I lift these people up in prayer as I read. I remember them through the day and carry them with me. If I'm preaching and have read the texts for the coming week, I often find bits of the Gospel in what they have written, tucking those pieces away as food for my soul.

This works for me. What works for you?

8 comments:

Songbird said...

Once when my boys were young, a college friend came to meet me while I was visiting my parents. While I was on alert, trying to keep two little boys from wreaking havoc on the antiques, she was lying late in bed, having her "quiet time." I remember feeling deeply irritated when she later seemed to be judging me for not spending the amount of time she did on devotions. Aargh!!! (But she has three children now, so I'm sure she understands.)
I pray off and on all through the day. I've come to understand that my call (as a person and as a pastor) is not comtemplative but reflective. I make an effort every day to reflect on events, people, the movement of the Spirit. Sometimes that comes out of reading, sometimes writing, sometimes music, sometimes being with others, often while knitting. I've come to feel the important thing is to be ready, as much as possible, to let the Spirit in, and that is my devotional practice.

Teri said...

I'm very much like you...and kind of like Songbird too. I like the idea of "reflective" rather than "contemplative" because I think that describes me. I too tend to pray for people as I read their blogs and emails. I also try to be aware of who comes to mind during the day or night and pray for them then.
I also have a book, actually, that has "daily readings" with women mystics. The readings are really short and tend to be a lot about God as a lover. I usually remember to read them about three times a week....
the book is called "Incandescence" and is edited by a woman called Carmen Butcher with a strange middle name.

Mary Beth said...

I start the day (when I go out to get paper) with a physical prayer: I cross myself, I circle myself with the protection of Christ, I draw about me a circle of holy protection. Then I pray briefly to be God's person in the world today.

the people driving by wonder if I am having a seizure?

I, also, pray while reading blogs. And I'm on a couple of prayer chains and pray for those requests as they come in via email throughout the day.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

My "devotions" have been mostly good intentions rather than actual. I have a habit only of praying before sleeping at night, yet I do try to lift people up as I think of them. Someone once called this arrow prayers. I sometimes think that this is enough, other times I think that it is a lazy cop out. Yet, God already knows my heart and surely God knows more about what the person needs than I do, so I usually just ask for God's touch to be evident in that person's life today.

OTOH, I feel when I pray aloud at our Bible Study that I am really being led by the Spirit. This prayer is longer and more sincere than anything I do "in my head." I also have to keep my eyes open or my mind wanders.

Heather said...

Works for me too! I bike to work, and in the morning, I take a little detour through a small park. I breathe in the scent of lilacs and listen to the birds and fountain, and take one last look at the green space before diving into the urban jungle. I like to think of that little jaunt through the park as my morning prayer.

Thanks for visiting my blog :-)

Katherine said...

I'll tell you what I do, but that doesn't mean it works for me. I practice the fine art of self-immolation. I don't bonk myself on the head with a piece of wood or wear a hair shirt, but I do chastize myself all the time for failing to devote. Maybe that's where immolation originated... regardless, I'd really like to move to a better place about it.

Rev Scott said...

I've struggled with this question for quite some time. I'll admit that I covet those people who can spend an hour each morning in silent prayer. Violating the 10th commandment in this way seems bizarre to me, but as far as idols go I've got plenty from which I can choose to berate myself.
I'm sort of like Teri and Songbird; reflecting on the many ways in which God and I communicate throughout the day. If we're continually in the presence of God through the power of the Spirit, then even our thoughts are a form of prayer (Romans 8.28 ring a bell?).
I do find that leading the 'prayers of the church' in worship on Sunday is a very different moment. I'm aware of the stories and persons for whom I'm praying, and I know that the congregation prays with me as we lift our petitions to God. There is something holy about praying consciously with my sisters and brothers in Christ. But that's far from 'devotional' practice - that's obeying the commandment to pray.
BTW, thanks for leaving your comment on my blog, and feel free to stop back anytime!

nycmom said...

Several weeks ago I began to use the daily office from the Episc. BCP -- but because I find it too cumbersome to flip through books for the office and the readings, I created a template (using a copy of the BCP on line). On Sunday afternoon I sit down at the computer and use a lectionary site with a link to the lessons and plug them into the template, creating one file for each day. I then download it to my PDA so I can read the morning office on the train to work and the evening office on the way home. (Each takes about 10 minutes.) I remember about 1/3 of the time to open my PDA on my lunch break and read the noon office, and am still trying to remember to read the one at the close of day (maybe this week . . .)

All told, I probably spend about 20-25 minutes, broken up throughout the day, but it's really helping me keep calm and focused. And to make sure that I actually create the daily files, I offered to email them to people in my congregation, and now send it to about a dozen people each week. (FYI, I'm not clergy but am in the lay leadership of the congregation, so my approach may be different from those of you who are ordained and do this for a profession.)