“Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to you for mercy.”
Psalm 88:9 NLT
The tradition in our congregational gathering when saying the Lord’s Prayer is to hold our hands open before us. It is a sign of the fact that we come open-handed to God, ready to serve as well as inviting God to fill us afresh with his love and grace. It’s a simple gesture, yet reflects the heart of much of our prayer. In prayer we are not bringing all of our baggage to God to sort out, rather we are approaching open-handed and saying, “Lord, hear my prayer, for here I am.”
This, the psalmist states, is a daily occurrence. For many years this wasn’t the case for me. There were arrow prayers launched out of my pressing needs and also for the needs of those brought to my attention. Yet, a systematic daily prayer time was not scheduled into my life. This was in part because it was perceived as ‘religious’ within the Church circles I then moved among. Spontaneity was king and everything that was habitual was by virtue of the repeat pattern, ‘religious’. Sadly, this meant that my prayer encounter was sporadic and focused primarily upon my needs. There was little appreciation of prayer as relationship with God.
Today I enjoy a daily rhythm of prayer. It is not long and is based around the Orthodox Morning Prayer. By virtue of its daily repetition, I know many of the prayers by heart. Of course, there are mornings when I awake and inwardly groan about taking myself to my place of prayer.
I generally stand before a lighted candle to pray. There are times when I bow before God and engage my physical body in my prayer. It is a visual declaration of my submission to God as well as a reminder to my whole conscious being that I am in fact choosing to worship God. The repeated rhythm of my morning prayer helps me to manage my own restless mind. It’s about calling on God by name, connecting with him, reminding myself that I am dependent upon him, while reminding him, “Here I am in need of your help.”
Do you have a daily rhythm of prayer?
Lord, teach me to pray in all circumstances.