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Rector's Reflection: The Way of Praying, August 5, 2023

Beloved Members and Friends of St. Martin’s, What are your favorite ways to pray, or prayers that you say? The title for this piece is actual deceptive. There is no ONE way to pray. Praying is, however, like a journey—a journey to the presence of God. And there are many paths to get there. One of the gifts of my classes this June at Sewanee was an assignment to spend 30 minutes each day (at least five of the seven days of the week) in unstructured prayer: to simply sit and open my heart and spirit to God. Because my accommodations were in a busy apartment building, I decided to find quiet places around campus, often near water or an overlook. Sometimes I prayed in the morning, some days it was so busy I could only pray at night. One morning I went to what’s known as Green’s View, which is a promontory that overlooks the broad Cumberland Plateau, and just below our feet the clouds formed a solid deck all the way to the horizon. It wasn’t fog. It was solid, white, dazzling cloud. What a wonder it was! And people who had lived on the mountain, which is known for being foggy and humid all year round, said that they had never seen anything like it. I was so grateful that this assignment had gotten me up to see it. After a half hour, the clouds had thinned underneath, and you could see the valley below. In an hour, it was gone. As I watched, my heart praised God for the wonders of this Earth, so delicate, so generous, so constantly prone to surprise us despite all our days. One thing I would like to first make sure of is that everyone has a copy of the Book of Common Prayer. There is an online version, but it does not include all the pages—and unfortunately the missing pages contain explanations that are quite useful. Please let me know if you do not have a Book of Common Prayer in your home. I will make sure you get one. It’s called the “Book of Common Prayer” for a reason. The “common” part emphasizes how we pray together—even when we are worshiping at home using one of the liturgies, chances are someone somewhere around the world is praying that same prayer with you. And the “Prayer” part is no joke—the BCP includes all kinds of liturgies, yes, but also prayers and thanksgivings for nearly every occasion. It is my hope that we all develop a daily prayer practice of some sort, and that we constantly look for ways to enrich it and deepen it. Of course, the most “Anglican” home prayer tradition is to pray the Daily Office, with the principal times having been condensed from ancient monastic practice down to Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. There is a special lectionary for the Daily Office in the backs of your prayer books—and between that lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary we use for weekend worship, you will cover most of the Bible at least one and a half times over a six year period—and the majority of the Psalms every 6 weeks. However, the Book of Common Prayer is just the beginning. There are other collections of worship materials and prayer resources available from the Episcopal Church, and beyond—if you’ve ever gone to the 505, you have been exposed to some of those other resources, and even original prayers too. We Anglicans are great borrowers! In order to help encourage our developing home prayer life, I have been creating and adding prayers and worship materials to the parish website. Look under the “Learn” tab to find a page entitled “Home Worship Materials.” Thus far, I have added there a short and long version of the Epiphany House Blessing; an order for Eucharistic visits to the sick that can be used by lay and ordained persons alike; a liturgy for the loss of a pet; and a page about compline and bedtime prayers for adults and children. Be looking for more resources in the days to come—and please come when we explore our worship heritage and other spiritual practices as part of our adult forum this coming program year! In Christ’s love,

Mother Leslie+

Image: Green's View capped by cloud, June 16, 2023, Sewanee, Tennessee

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