Throughout the ages pilgrims have engaged in spiritual practices. There is the central act of worship that Jesus gave us of breaking bread and sharing wine. There is the ritual initiation of baptism that makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps one of the most basic and important practices of spiritual pilgrims is that of prayer. This week I want to commend to you the practice of praying intentionally throughout your day.
Prayer connects us to God in a personal and intimate way. When my children were very young we had a ritual for bedtime. Each night, bedtime started with putting on pajamas and brushing teeth. Then came a bedtime story. Finally, and most importantly, came the kiss goodnight. I would tuck their blankets in snugly and give them a kiss. That time together each night was precious. When they were older my children knew that I loved them deeply because of the bond we formed over the years, including that good night kiss. When their lives became more complicated, and their problems more challenging, we had the strength of our love, formed by years of care expressed in part through that bedtime ritual.
Our relationship with God needs the same kind of attention. We pray to God each day to form and strengthen our relationship so that when life gets hard, we will have the assurance of that love. Like a good night kiss, daily prayers give us the experience of God’s love for us and our love for God.
There are lots of different ways we can pray but I recommend starting with something simple. Say grace before eating. Thank God for the food that you are about to eat and for the people you are eating with. Another simple and effective practice is to say the Lord’s Prayer at noon each day. Set a reminder on your phone or computer. When noon comes, take a minute to pray. Make that a priority. Let your prayer remind you that you are a pilgrim seeking to know God. Finally, at the end of your day, try thanking God for all the blessings of the day. What could be better than to end the day recalling all the good things that happened?
Let your prayer be the practice that connects you to God each day. Let your prayer be the good night kiss that forms your love and your relationship with God the Father. Let your prayer be the practice that makes your life a pilgrimage.
Your brother in Christ,
The Rev. David Marshall