It seems to me more and more that if we are to call ourselves God-centered (and that is a good definition of Christianity) that we must make the shape of our daily lives God-centered. Our schedule and routine (daily discipline if you will) must take on the shape of? God-centeredness. It is not enough to pray at meals and attend church services. We must bend our lives to the reflect ” God in the midst of us”.
It is very easy to allow God to slip away from our consciousness. Busyness consumes us and even just the effort of daily living can be enough to drive us and our thoughts and hearts away from God. How often I have begun to live and then realized that I had not truly spoken with God or allowed myself to be still in His presence in weeks! I didn’t really make a conscious decision to ignore Him, I simply was busy and He slipped from my consciousness.
This is one of the places that the practice of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer (The Daily Office) can be invaluable. If every day in my schedule there is a small slot in the morning and another at night to pull my thoughts to God, he becomes much easier to hear. If I have spent that time then I am more likely in the midst of stress to ask for grace. The shape of my day changes when it begins and ends with God, and this effects all of my life.
Morning Prayer: Begins with an invocation and confession:
From Psalm 51
Open my lips, O Lord, *
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
I chant this (but it can just as easily be spoken) and the words become a gateway through which to enter into the presence of God.
Then I read a Psalm, an Old Testament Lesson, New Testament Lesson and a Gospel from the Daily Lectionary.
After thinking and perhaps journaling some about the Lessons, I use one of the Prayers of the People as a guide for my own prayers.? There are six forms of the Prayers of the People so I use one for each day Monday through Saturday, and some of the Prayers of Thanksgiving on Sunday.
I conclude with The Lord’s Prayer and the Morning Collect:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought
us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty
power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by
adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your
purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Later in the day I use this service or something a little abbreviated (usually only one lesson instead of four) with the children. They are able to participate in most of the devotions since we use the same words each day. I have been able to see them relax into a mind-space of reverence and worship as we chant the opening. They are learning to make their lives God-shaped and hopefully this practice will remain with them as they grow.