"Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it." -Jeremiah 6:16
As we continue to work out what the theology, ecclesiology and missiology of Jacob's Well looks like in the context of urban mission, witness and community...I am finding more and more traction within the New Monasticism, or Neo-monasticism circles of thought and action.
As part of this philosophical undergirding, I'm becoming aware of a deep need for being a more practical community of prayer, as well as a community of mission.
Personally, I've been working at establishing fixed moments of prayer into my daily schedule. I have desired to find a prayerful rhythm that will help me saturate my mind, heart and actions with more Spirit infused grace and wisdom. My life is filling up and the amount of talking and counseling is increasing and I am finding myself emptying out far quicker. Often the noise of my mouth and people talking becomes louder and louder and soon the cistern of my soul drains out. When my words echo with a reverberating hollowness....I know that I'm needing a deeper work of contemplation to take place in my moment to moment life. My roots need to sink deep down into Christ and draw up more nourishment to keep "ministry without life" at bay.
I've been using the ancient practice of praying the hours (Lauds/Morning, None/Midday, Vespers/evening & Compline/night or bedtime) as my 'trellis' for turning more Godward in my day. I'm working to develop a rhythm of prayer that will be sustainable for myself with the hopes of inviting our church to join one another in a 'scattered community' experience of praying the hours together. Having not only fixed times but places to gather together for short times of prayer...but even if one cannot join others in a fixed location...we still join one another at fixed times...to come together before the Lord to worship Him and be with each other in the same heart, mind and purpose of prayer.
At about 10-12 minutes per prayer pause...its simple and rejuvenating and the structure which is part printed and part spontaneous makes it good for beginners or those looking for guidance on what, when and how to pray. Each 'office of prayer' is made up of biblically rich prayers, the Psalms, the Gospels for short readings and space for simple lifting of names for intercession. Within this prayer tool will be a yearly plan for bible reading that all of us can move through and meditate upon as a community of faith each month.
By the end of the day if all four "offices" are prayed...you will have lifted all your loved one and needy situations up in prayer and will have saturated your heart and mind with Godward supplication, worship and simple yet powerful communication with the Lord via the Spirit and the Word.
The beauty of this 'trellis' is that its there when ever...and if you can join and your day allows it...one can simply come before the Lord without guilt or pressure. This is a means of experience His grace...a simple tool to posture ourselves Godward.
Here are some resources for this journey of prayer:
-Disciplines for the Inner Life
-In Constant Prayer
-The Divine Hours
I will soon have these Four Offices of Prayer available in PDF format for your computers or iphones so that you will have them with you at all times if you do desire. Choosing to stop your life, put it on pause for 12 minutes and join the Lord and one another in prayer...is a discipline that you will not regret pursuing.