“I am often asked why it is that a rhythm to our spiritual life is necessary. My response is that it is not necessary, it is essential. For whatever reason the rhythms of sleeping, eating and playing are not so quickly questioned. However, once we come to prayer, or our formation in Christ, the criticisms and excuses flow!

 

All SeasonsIn St Cuthbert’s Oratory here on the south coast of England, living as a lay Friar with a job to do and a family to care for, I begin each day and evening with an Office of prayer. This is a formal liturgy involving thanksgiving, confession, scripture, and prayer. I either say it aloud yet alone, or welcome others to join me. Whilst there is nothing ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’ about such a practice, it is an acknowledgement of my need of God, my respect for God and my commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and draw aside to fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

It is healthy for our humanity to find that space where we can draw apart and sit with God. We have come from God and need to return so as to remember where we have come from and renew that friendship and the values that sustain it. The purpose of prayer is to draw apart. It is less about what I do than it is to place self absorption on pause and create the space to discover who I am in God and what God is doing within me. It is a time to ponder God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.

 

Prayer can and does take many forms yet to pause and contemplate the Divine presence, simply to listen, so that God can bring each one of us to where God wants us to be. Whilst many of us seek authenticity in others as much as ourselves, we have forgotten that the word comes from the Latin ‘au-dire’ i.e. ‘to hear’. When we are authentic in our relationship with God we hear God.

 

God is the source of everything and a rhythm that creates the space to dwell with the Beloved will enable the Light of life to expose all falsehood within us and embracewe will become authentic.

 

A rhythm is merely a very practical and well ordered way to ensure we remain humble, open and listen to God. It is never about how we feel, always about who God is. The drawing aside is for God’s benefit ahead of mine. Hence, I may emerge from my Office or a period of silent contemplation feeling disconcerted, unsettled, even frustrated, however that matters little. It was not for me but for God. For many of us the words of Jesus to his disciples in the Gethsemane garden ring in our ears, ‘So could you not stay awake with me one hour?’

 

The choice is forever our own, yet developing a rhythm of regular prayer is in my opinion an essential ingredient in continuing our pilgrim’s journey ever deeper into God’s heart.”

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