Prayer Guides and Pray-As-You-Go

Prayer is not a spiritual practice that comes easily to me. There have been seasons in which I find placing myself in God’s presence comes naturally, but more often, it seems to be a struggle. I have found I need guides. Praying Scriptures is helpful. Praying in groups, whether it is a time of intercession or simple contemplative silence, works well for me. Fixed prayers like Phyillis Tickles’ The Divine Hours series have also aided me greatly. In the past, I have been embarrassed to admit that I need prayer guides. My assumption was that if I was truly spiritually mature, I could be alone with God and pray without interruption or distraction for hours on end. To need guides like other people or books was a sign of weakness. Real prayer, the kind of prayer that really counted, had to come from my mind and from no one else. I was so jealous of friends who would talk peacefully and joyously about entire mornings spent in prayer. After years of struggle, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am simply someone who needs aids to prayer. This became especially clear to me after my father’s death when I found I was drawn to prayer but could not say anything. I bought some prayer books like The Divine Hours and found the words of the Church so wonderful and beneficial.

The most recent prayer guide I have used is the daily podcast Pray-As-You-Go. I recommend it highly. The spiritual director I saw last year turned me on to this wonderful guide. Each podcast is around twelve to fifteen minutes long. There is meditative music that often goes with the theme of that day’s prayer. The prayers are around a reading of Scripture that follows the lectionary. I love the piercing questions in the podcasts. Pray-As-You-Go is created by a community of English Jesuits. Each week there is a different leader and reader. The different voices guiding listeners through prayer and who all join in at the end with the recitation of the Gloria Patri remind me of the wonderful grandness of God’s love and the diversity of God’s people. The fifteen minutes with Pray-As-You-Go have become some of my favorite moments of my day. You can also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

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A New Space

Welcome to the new Space Between My Ears. Unfortunately I was unable to import the posts and comments from my earlier blog (spacebetween.blogsome.com). The new blog may not have much on it now, but it is essentially a continuation of the older blog. Please update your links. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Even though this blog really isn’t anything altogether new, I want to share a quotation from my reading for a recent history class I took for my ordination in the Covenant Church. I offer this quotation as a reminder to all of us as we write and read about important matters. It comes from a letter by David Nyvall to Otto Hogfeldt, the editor of the newspaper Hem-Missionaren. (If you cannot tell, the Covenant began as a Swedish church.) Nyvall was one of our denomination’s earliest mental giants. The letter is reprinted in Karl A. Olsson’s massive history of the Covenant, By One Spirit. I love Nyvall’s generous and gentle spirit. He writes:

May you be given, not only a sharp pen, but above everything else more and more of a burning and loving heart. Write with red ink oftener than with black. Encourage more than criticize. It is through the good that we do that we recommend ourselves, not through the evil that others do. The faults of others never become our merits. Others’ sins never become our virtues. It is sin to criticize when it does not happen in a spirit of pure and guileless love — a love which aims to help. (348, emphasis mine)

Nyvall’s call for love in the midst of dealing with important and controversial matters challenges me as the internet seems to make it easier for people to be less gracious, less civil. I love the exhortation to, “Write with red ink oftener than with black.” It is too easy to just throw something up on the blog that has not been crafted with care and love for others. May we all take seriously the call to encourage others more than we criticize.

For those wondering why I started a new site, I moved here because the host of my old blog has been slowly closing its support — hence the inability to export and import that blog’s posts — and from what I could read in the forums, most of the other users sensed it was only a matter of time before it shut down completely.