January: Week 2

Spiritual Disciplines – Introducing some intentionality 

If you are still on holiday—ENJOY! Re-read the section on Spiritual Disciplines: Rhythms and Rules of Life, and in particular, the questions: “What sort of life do I want to be living?” and therefore, “What do I want the rhythms and habits of my life to look like?” 

Start to think about how you might answer these questions– don’t jump too quickly to shallow answers. Use your Journal. Perhaps a good first step might be to review, How you are living your life now? Some suggested steps for review:

  • Flick back over your 2019 diary and notice how you spent much of your time. Resist the temptation to go back and fix things or complete things you missed! This is a review– just notice where you spent your time.
  • Do a quick financial review: where did you spend your money in 2019? You might have clever bank statements that analyse your spending by categories.
  • Which relationships do you think you invested most into this past year?

These simple assessments of the way you prioritised your time, money and passion. See if you can think of other ways to objectively look at how you are currently living your life.

Are there any things you might change? What would you leave the same? Why have you chosen those things? 

Try to find three separate occasions this week when you can spend 15 minutes reflecting prayerfully on your responses. 

Recommended Reading: The Common Rule, by Justin Whitmel Earley.

Extract from “The Common Rule”:

Exercise: Short Kneeling Prayer at Waking, Mid-workday and Bed.

Meditation:

Christmas is about the advent of love in a loveless world. We delighted in the fact that God came to the world because he loved us.

This love is worth celebrating, and any good celebrating takes practice. Framing our days in prayer is to frame them in love. This is an act of embrace, of celebration of God’s gift of life – our lives and the life of the world. 

So when we wake up in the morning, we don’t ask what do I have to do today? We don’t immediately begin scheming on how we can justify our existence today. What we do is we get down on our knees in prayer.

This is a keystone habit, by framing the day with times of kneeling prayer we punctuate the day like a sentence, ordering the syntax so that that it begins to have meaning. 

This meaning continues into midday. I often notice the point I need to pray midday because I have an urge for a second cup of coffee, my mind starts to repeatedly drift from work, or I have an urge to search the Internet for – What? – I don’t know. I just want to search. This is the point where I’m looking down the barrel of the afternoon and I see all the things I’m not going to get done, I see  condemnation, failure, and disappointment. 

That is when I close the laptop, close the door, and get to my knees again to pray, usually, no more than 60 seconds, and this is the semicolon in the day that turns the sentence away from my failure and back towards God’s love

And then as the evening approaches we think, how I going to end this thing? By lying awake in bed letting all the replay tapes go? By browsing my phone for some current event scandal to bounce meaninglessly around my brains like an angry pinball? Am I going to spend it searching for one last bit of pleasure from God knows where on the internet? No. 

We place the period of God’s mercy and care for us at the end, on our knees beside the bed.  We made it through another one. Doesn’t matter whether you feel spiritual or not, it is just habit.

Practice:

The first question that may come to your mind as you kneel, “What do I pray?” If you’re not sure, try these Advent prayers. If you are prevented from kneeling because of health or because perhaps you don’t have a private place at work to kneel, try gently turning your palms upwards where you are.

MORNING:

  • Father, I pray that I would enter this day as your Son entered the world, full of love and hope. Amen.

AT WORK:

  • Jesus, I pray that I would be present in my work as you were present in this world, full of humility and service. Amen.

AT BED:

  • Holy Spirit, I pray that I would be at peace in my rest knowing that you came to bring peace to the world, and will one day bring rest to all things. Amen. 

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