OK, I’ll admit it – even pastors have difficulty making time for prayer, carving out space for conversation with God, listening to God’s Word, being silent in the presence of God, figuring out how to “pray without ceasing.” Go to any clergy gathering and the topic of one’s own spiritual life will arise. It’s not a technical challenge – one that can be “fixed” or “solved” by an expert, a program, or a technique. It’s adaptive – one that requires the grace of a new heart and mind, an openness to ways God might be calling for us to look with new eyes. That’s first and foremost!
But recently, I’ve also discovered some gifts that are enabling me to find joy in prayer.
The first is a Facebook page, website, and app called “Ceaseless.” It was created by Chris Lim, a Presbyterian ruling elder in Seattle. He wanted to pray for others, but found it was hard and usually felt impersonal – and overwhelming! “There are just too many people and needs to keep track of, much less pray for. And, let’s be honest, I knew that I couldn’t count on self-discipline to manage prayer lists that in the past would quickly be forgotten.” So Chris built an app that would give him several friends to pray for each day out of his list of Facebook friends, or contacts. Every morning, he would look forward to discovering who to pray for that day. After about 6 months of praying for 3 friends each day, he discovered that with 70 users, they had prayed for over 20,000 people! That led him to begin to think of Ceaseless as more than a product, but an invitation to joy and participation in God’s reign – wondering what God might do as we pray regularly for others with all the breadth and depth that God invites us to. You can check out an article about Chris here.
The free app is simple to download for IOS or Android. So far I have prayed for a Woman Touched by Grace friend, congregational members, colleagues, childhood friends.
A second app is called “Insight,” and contains your own personal prayer bowl sound (without buying a prayer bowl!) and a timer. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I sit down for my morning prayers and end up rushing through because my mind is focused on the clock and everything I have to do. The simple prayer bowl sound and timer helps me relax into knowing that God is in control. I can let go and rest in the gift of those 10 minutes knowing someone else is “watching the clock.”
And, finally, in preparation for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, Augsburg Fortress Publishing has developed an app with Luther’s Small Catechism. OK—I’m not going to read Luther’s explanation of the 10 Commandments every day (even though it may be good for me!) But Luther’s morning and evening prayers are a wonderful way to frame my day, and especially lay down to rest at night in peace. So, again, praying without ceasing is not about technology…but when our hearts are open and our spirits are thirsty, God is there to provide gifts for the journey!
On the journey with you,