A weekly Rector’s Notes Article
Prayer can be really hard for Episcopalians.
I personally have struggled my whole life with maintaining a personal spiritual practice of prayer and reflection. It is an expectation of clergy that not only do we engage in prayer on a regular basis but that we also be well versed and well skilled in the practices, being able to rely on different methods in order to connect to God whenever and wherever the need arises. But, and this might come as a shock, this just simply isn’t the case. It’s not for a lack of trying or a lack of education, but rather the simple fact that clergy are people too, and especially as an Episcopalian there is an innate sense that we don’t know how to have a personal prayer practice.
But, this isn’t entirely true either. It is true that as Episcopalians our central practices of prayer are centered around corporate worship. Even our daily prayer services are designed and intended for at least 2 or 3 gathered together in His name. So, it can be daunting at best to be asked to pray by ourselves, alone, without anyone else. That just isn’t our primary practice of faith. That isn’t something that we ever really have an opportunity to do within the formal structures of our faith practice. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the tools and knowledge to do this, we are just wary.
Just because the Book of Common Prayer is centered upon corporate worship does not mean that the prayers and services contained therein cannot be done by an individual. In fact, there is a (small) section for daily devotions (BCP page 136) specifically for individuals or families to do at home, but you can use any of the prayers and services to help guide you in personal prayer.
There is no reason why one couldn’t reflect on the Baptismal Covenant (BCP page 304) as a daily prayer practice. Perhaps clergy would be well suited to remind themselves of their ordination vows (BCP pages 531-2 for priests, 543-4 for deacons) more regularly than once a year. Couples (or individuals in marriages) could reflect on the vows and prayers offered for them in the marriage rite. These are just a few of the places one could find a source of personal prayer that is familiar, that is comfortable, that is accessible to our understanding of a primarily corporate prayer practice.
A common practice in Lent is to engage in prayer with a deeper intention. To take on this call to practice our prayer in a personal way. To find a way of praying daily that opens our hearts to the presence of God. When we engage in this practice, we may be amazed at the results that come about. Our faith can only deepen when we invite God to be a part of it on a regular basis. Our faith can only grow and strengthen when we practice it, when we work out those “prayer muscles.” Join us this Wednesday for our Lenten practice of prayer, dinner, and formation as we engage and explore the varieties of prayer that are available to us.