Evening prayers have come to be my favorite for two reasons, reflection on our Rule of Life and The Canticle of Mary.
It is a time residents take to personally reflect on one of the Rules of life. People share experiences, personal stories, articles, essays they have read or wrote, excerpts from books and meditations. It becomes a pretty rich and diverse time, you never know what is going to happen or come out of someone’s mouth. Will read part of a sermon he was writing for the church he is going to pastor. He talked about not being a miracle worker but “bringing what he’s got?” as he put it. I am not sure why, but tears were streaming down my eyes when he finished. Maybe it was because we can all do that, bring what we have wherever we go. It was genuine and personal but rang universal.
A—-, the resident story teller, talked about what it was like to sell her 4br house and move here 25 years ago, downsizing and making room for something else, making room for God even. R—- shared a FB post/conversation which was sparked by his friend about being overwhelmed in the age of technology and reflected on the need to slow down and be present. I love this time, it’s a piece of unscripted goodness for us to munch on at the end of the day, a 6pm appetizer before we go share a meal together. It helps me get to know my community better and God better through their lives, stories and experiences.
The second thing I like is that every evening we read the Canticle of Mary from her Magnificant. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior….” I find the first verse reverberating in my soul during the day. These are good words to plant in my soul. Repeating them every day hopefully will make them part of me. We have a Taize service which is basically singing short chants for about an hour or so. Singing simple verses over and over does something to you, something supernatural, you can feel the words, the praise, the prayer penetrating your being, vibrating through you almost. I am gained a reverence for repetition, there seems to be a power in it, a comfort and centering. Mary’s Magnificent does that for me every evening. As we say it in unison, the sound waves move through me in a way nothing else we read does.
Experiencing all of these things at evening prayer has had me thinking about prayer lately, what exactly it is. I heard someone at a church I was visiting say that prayer was learned helplessness, asking God for things we need that we cannot do ourselves. Paul instructed us to pray without ceasing, keeping God ever before us. Breath prayers of “Lord give me strength” or “Lord have mercy” have helped me do that. A few weeks ago, I heard a preacher quoting a Christian book that studied revivals in Christian history and noted that every one of them begin with prayer. Jesus stated that some demons only come out by prayer and fasting. That makes me think that some aspect of prayer is the act or posture of getting in line with the power, spirit, word and purposes of God. Prayer seems to be important, powerful and very diverse. Listening, asking, reading good words and scripture, centering silence, praise and being present the ordinary are some of the ways I’ve learned to pray. Whatever prayer is, it seems to have the power to change things, or at least change the person praying. I hope I am changed by all of this prayer. I hope I am revived by it and then I can go out an change my little corner of the world.