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Random reflections on my morning prayers

(My wife, as you might know, is an excellent writer. But, then, as she once worked for Forbes magazine, I suppose that is unsurprising. Recently, while leafing through some of the things she has written, I came across the following article. It struck me that it bears reprinting. I hope you share my opinion. GPH✠)

praying hands smallFor some time now, I have engaged myself in saying my Morning Office from the family prayer section of the BCP. I began using these prayers in place of the regular Morning Office as they seemed more personal. They also fit the time I had allotted—which is, of course, a poor excuse.

Nonetheless, I set a goal of reading the family prayer section and following the reading with a chapter of the Bible each day and so I have done for the past year or so.

There are some immediate benefits that come to mind from the exercise, not least on what portend to be the most difficult days.

It is then that the best words leap off the page for temper keeping and equanimity. That is not to say that they perfect the practitioner. Far from it! It is just that I am reminded of what I should aim for.

On many days the outside world intrudes, and I find myself under-concentrating until I am most of the way finished, or I must restart the prayer and this time pay attention.

Sometimes I have spontaneous thoughts about that which I might read elsewhere in the Bible, or a particularly good verse will abide with me in my thoughts throughout the day, being almost a sufficiency of interesting thought, though quite unintended. St. Francis’ of Assisi’s “Do good always” occurs to me frequently.

One of the things that set me on this course was an acquaintanceship with the works of sundry writers of the 18th century—people like George Washington, my own distant relatives and such.

I was impressed, in reading their letters, at the presence of God constantly in their minds. They invoked God to their friends and business acquaintances. They used Christian virtues in their metaphors, and employed the concept of humility in their closing line.

For example, George Washington usually signed off a letter: “Your obedient servant”. Even as general or president, this was his projection of himself upon another.

Meandering, as thought does, I began to ponder this, coming at last to the conclusion that the people of that earlier age were much more profoundly aware of the omnipresence of God in their lives than we are today—myself included.

Putting God into one’s life requires physically acting on the very thought of God each day. Most certainly God does not belong in a Sunday box.

The Bible recommends that we “pray without ceasing.” Met anybody like that lately? No, neither had I. But, if I were to try to incorporate prayer without ceasing, it would have to be in the place where my unconscious thoughts put me in the small moments of the day.

To do that, one would need to organize some God thoughts. Hence, the notion of saying some prayers I liked, to start off the day. That helped.

My five-minute prayer regime pushed more of my random thoughts toward God than without the effort. It was so that when a problem arose, God occurred to me. It was so that when a solution was needed God occurred to me.

It was as James Montgomery’s hymn says:

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
    Unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire,
    That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
    The falling of a tear.
The upward glancing of an eye,
    When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
    That infant lips can try:
Prayer, the sublimest strains
    That reach the Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
    The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death:
    He enters heav’n with prayer.

O thou by whom we come to God,
    The Life, The Truth, The Way,
The path of prayer thyself has trod:
    Lord teach us how to pray.

God Bless You

—CHARLOTTE HAWTIN

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