A MONK IN THE WORLD

The Liturgy of the Hours

IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.  

 

THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS.

 

One thing that attracted me most to Benedictine spirituality is the custom of praying The Liturgy of the Hours.  Fixed-hour prayer has its origins in Judaism from which Christianity came and is still widely used today. The connection to this ancient practice is fascinating to me and draws me in with an incredible sense of unity to my spiritual family.

In a previous blog I wrote a book review on The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle.  Ms. Tickle has done a marvelous job compiling scripture and prayers for daily use built around the seasons of the year. If you are just learning about this type of prayer routine Phyllis Tickle’s books are an excellent place to start.

By far my favorite way to pray the hours is with my iPhone app The Divine Office.  This wonderful ministry has developed beautiful productions of worship experiences and brought them to us via technology.  Not to worry, if you don’t have a smart phone you can still participate through their website.

What an incredible experience to join the live recording and gather with a world-wide community who are praying together. This takes Christian community worship to a whole different level!  As the earth rotates and each time slot changes we pass on the prayers like a baton to the next time zone.  I find this such a sweet thing to imagine. I’ve been using The Divine Office app for 2 years and look forward to hearing the now familiar voices each day.

As a recovering addict this prayer routine has been a great tool especially in rough times. When I can rotate my day around praying the Psalms it helps to push out things of the world by keeping my heart and mind focused on transformation.

I encourage you to consider praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  It has given my prayer life new direction, energy and purpose.


RESOURCES: 
The Benedictine Handbook Liturgical Press 2003
The Divine Hours: A Manual for Prayer by Phyllis Tickle
Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monks Insights for a Balanced Life by Lonni Pratt and Fr. Daniel Homan
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life by Benet Tvedten
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine**
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal

BOOK REVIEW

The Divine Hours:Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

THE DIVINE HOURS: Prayers for Summertime 


by 


Phyllis Tickle

 
 
 
 
For the last several months I have been using Phyllis Tickle’s prayer book series. I purchased the entire set which includes prayer books for each season of the year, along with a book of Night Offices. I started with Prayers for Springtime and have now moved to Prayers for Summertime.
 
If you are unfamiliar with Phyllis Tickle you will find her a prolific writer with dozens of books to her name. She is the founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly and has been a much sought after speaker on religion in America.
 
In The Divine Hours Ms. Tickle makes primary use of The Book of Common Prayer, the writings of the Church Fathers and takes Scripture readings from the New Jerusalem Bible.  Each book is divided into specific time categories: Morning, Mid-day, Evening and Night and is easy to navigate to find today’s reading.
As a recovering addict it’s critical that I keep my prayer routine on track and The Divine Hours series has been most helpful in this area.  Although I have several prayer books and iPhone apps, I really enjoy Phyllis Tickle’s books and use them regularly. 
 
If you are looking for a way to freshen your prayer and praise routine while participating in the ancient practice of the liturgy, I highly recommend The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle.
 

BOOK REVIEW :: The Book of Hours with Thomas Merton


A Book of Hours 

with 

Thomas Merton




Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was an incredible spiritual thinker of the 20th Century. Though he lived a mostly solitary life as a Trappist monk, he had an amazing impact on the world through is writing. He was an out spoken anti-war and civil rights proponent and was reprimanded for his social criticisms. He was unique among Christian leaders in that he embraced Eastern mysticism and sought to bridge the gap between the East and the West.

Over the last several years I’ve run across Thomas Merton’s name in many books. Having read several by now, I am quite taken by his way of teaching, his convictions and his sweet poetic writing style.

A Book of Hours wasn’t written personally by Thomas Merton, it is a recent compilation from his books sweetly edited by Kathleen Deignan and beautifully illustrated by John Giuliani.

Designed as a daily prayer book, A Book of Hours has various selections from Merton’s poems and other writings divided up as hymns and prayers which are to be read each day of the week at Dawn, Day, Dusk and at Dark.

It has been the a tradition of the Christian church since ancient times to pray throughout the day. In this way the church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing. As I have embraced monastic spirituality, praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been a wonderful way to keep me spiritually focused through the day. It helps me specifically in my recovery walk to stay on track.

I highly recommend The Book of Hours by Thomas Merton. Beautifully bound, it is a great gift for yourself or a friend. It is one of the sweetest prayer books I own. I will treasure it for many years to come. 

Blessings… Tamara

A Monk in the World :: LECTIO DIVINA

In Monk in the World we are learning the values, teachings and principles of Christian monasticism and how we can apply them to our lives outside the monastery walls. Today we’re focusing on the Prayer of Lectio Divina.

Lectio divina which means “holy or divine reading”  is an ancient form of prayer using Scripture as the voice of God to our heart. This type of prayer is simple in concept but  powerful in practice, taking us deeper and deeper in our relationship with God.


There are various takes on the practice of lectio divina. We are going to use the one I’ve learned from my resources listed below. Before beginning any prayer time we must find a quiet place to sit with the Lord. Focusing on our breath, we prepare to listen as the Holy Spirit brings openness and guidance.

  1. LECTIO: (Latin for reading) In this step we read a section of Scripture slowly, savoring each word as a delicious morsel that will nourish our soul. It’s helpful to read the passage aloud watching ever closely for a word or phrase that shimmers in our heart.
  2. MEDITATIO: (Latin for mediation) Here we take the phrase that caught our heart’s attention and ruminate on it through repetition and reflection. As we chew on the given text we connect it with our life situations.
  3. ORATIO: (Latin for prayer) In this next step we actually begin our conversion with God, our closest friend and confidant who we can share anything with. Here we may find much needed joy and gratitude; a renewal of hope and trust.
  4. CONTEMPLATIO (Latin for contemplation) Here we stop doing and just be, we still our hearts and minds, find rest in God’s loving arms as His precious child. We may continue our reading or end our prayer with thanksgiving.
Certainly one of my favorite passages of Scripture to meditate on is Psalm 23. Here are a few others you may consider:

Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.”
Psalm 91 “You who live in the shelter of the Most High”
Romans 8 “There is therefore no condemnation…

I hope you will enjoy the practice of lectio divina. I’m looking forward to putting it more into practice for myself this upcoming year.

Blessings…

RESOURCES:
St. Benedicts Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 11

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY which are BASED ON THE BEATITUDES, ALONG WITH THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE YEARLY CALENDAR.

…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ~ Philippians 2:13 NIV

Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.


Principle 7 (Celebrate Recovery): Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. 



At this stage of our journey we are growing stronger every day with God. By taking time each morning, or perhaps throughout the day, to sit with Scripture, to be quiet in prayer and mediation, listening for that still small voice to bring us guidance. 

As we grow in confidence and faith it becomes easier to walk in God’s will. But make no mistake, we cannot do it alone. The moment we take our eyes of The Source of our strength we set ourselves up for a fall.

The verse I chose for this week is one very close to my heart. It is one my husband and I pray over ourselves and our family regularly. Without God working in us we can’t even begin to know what His will is, nor have the ability to walk it out.  

All God is asking is that we be willing and available to let Him work. Then He will show us His will so then hopefully we might bring Him pleasure from our lives. 

Success requires us to be intentional and committed minute by minute. This can only be done prayerfully with the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What is your mediation/prayer routine like?


If you can’t see the video screen below Click Here for our Road to Recovery theme song for prayer.

Celebrate Discipline :: PRAYER


Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart; that is, at the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one. ~ Henry Nouwen


SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness

PRAYERpersonal conversations with God; expressing our concerns and listening to His response.

The season of Lent is a wonderful time to consider our prayer life. Most of us would be embarrassed to admit how little time we spend praying. With all the advances of our day it seems we could find more time for prayer. However, today’s technologies often bring more distractions unto madness. Rather than bring guilt, I come with possible solutions and maybe a new perspective that can help usher us into a place of solace where The Source of Peace awaits.


Sometimes it seems like praying is a waste of time; we feel like our thoughts are floating out into the universe. But as our prayer life goes, so goes our spiritual growth. Prayer isn’t just about our own godliness. As warriors in the spiritual battle, without prayer we fight unprepared and defensless. Something that has been very convicting to me is to think about people of other religious beliefs… Hindu and Muslims pray multiple times per day at set increments.

Shouldn’t we Christians be as devoted to our prayer time?

For the last year I’ve been learning about Benedictine Monasticism. As a way of living out the command to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) the monastic pray the Liturgy of the Hours seven times per day. St. Benedict teaches that by returning portions of our most precious gift of time, we are practicing a basic form of hospitality to God; making room in our schedule for the entertainment of God’s Presence. It is from that divine foundation that other forms of hospitality derive. Wow! How can we not want to pray after that?

This apparent “wasting” of time on God is the wisest possible use of this precious gift!

Often we do everything but pray. We want something more “substantial.” Even studying the Bible, going to church, talking to the pastor or receiving counsel seems more tangible than prayer. But it’s time to roll away the stone of prayerlessness. It’s the most prohibitive obstacle on the road to a believer’s victory. ~ Beth Moore

Types of Prayer

There are many ways to pray but today we are going to focus on Contemplative prayer.

Contemplative Prayer: a receptive waiting with hearts awake to God’s presence and His Word.

Breath Prayer: is a form of contemplative prayer that is linked to the rhythm of our breathing. When we breath in we call on a biblical name or image of God, and when we breath out a simple God-given desire. This is one of my favorite types of prayer to use as I’m going to sleep at night.

Breath in: “Holy One,” breath out “keep me true.”
Breath in “Lord Jesus,” breath out “have mercy on me.” 

Centering Prayer: is a form of contemplative prayer where one seeks to quiet the scattered thoughts and find stillness in Christ’s presence. By centering prayer on simple words like Jesus, Father, love, peace, or a phrase from Scripture. With these words we linger with God and open our hearts to His presence.



Postures of Prayer

In what position is it best to pray? Here are a few biblical postures for prayer:

  • Walking: a nature walk can be a sweet time of companionship with the Father.
  • Standing: is a way of giving honor to the majesty of God
  • Outstretched Arms: opens the core of our body up toward God.
  • Prostrate: lying face down puts us in a place of submission and obedience.
  • Kneeling: expresses reverence and humility before God.


Final Thoughts

I’m not here by any means as an expert in prayer, quite the contrary. I am on my own spiritual journey and only wish to share the things God teaches me.

As for prayer, I have found that setting aside a specific time helps me tremendously. If it works out today, great. If not, I’ll try better tomorrow. Another thing, when God brings a certain person to my mind, I take that as a prompt to pray for them.  A few helpful points…

  1. Set a regular scheduled time for prayer.
  2. Before praying, listen for guidance first.
  3. Pray with expectation!


We each have to find what works best for our schedules, personality types and temperament. The most important thing is that we take time to companion with our heavenly Father. 

As we put these habits into practice prayer continues within us as we are go about our day. Prayer become the active presence of God’s Spirit guiding us through life.


Take a moment to pray with this beautiful song by Celine Dion and Josh Groban  http://youtu.be/jhxIjRO6Wj


I

RESOURCES:

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook  by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
So You Want To Be Like Christ? by Charles R. Swindoll
The Way of the Heart by Henri J. Nouwen

Working the Steps :: STEP 11

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~ Romans 8:26-27




By working the Twelve Step process we are gradually learning what we want to achieve. To protect what we have learned, we must continually seek God’s will for our lives. Through a regular practice of prayer and mediation the burden of our painful past is released in daily increments. 


Prayer and meditation are difficult for some. Whether we’ve experienced toxic faith in our family or religious circles or grown up unfamiliar with the practices, it’s good to begin with baby steps. Let’s start by breaking down Step 11 into three parts so that we can understand what’s required of us in this step.
  1. What is Prayer? Prayer is talking with God about what His will is for my life.
  2. What is Meditation? Quietly listening and focusing on the Power of God inside me.
  3. What is Conscious Contact? Making myself aware of God’s presence with me.
By declaring our spiritual poverty before God through listening prayer we invite His grace into our lives. Trust begins with a childlike attitude; we stop trying to figure things out and become receptive to God’s kingdom–His rulership and will. It is here when we are truly listening to God.

With a quieted mind and spirit the promised knowledge and power become available. As we stop giving directions and start listening for God’s will our relationship with Him grows deeper. We can then receive His wisdom, peace and love. The courage to carry out His will becomes stronger with each step we take.

Putting Step 11 into practice. First find a quiet, undisturbed place where you can have some prayerful meditation. Choose one of the suggested prayers below. Begin the meditation music video I have selected. Repeat your prayer slowly as you fall into your Heavenly Father’s arms. Soak up His presence and listen for His still soft voice. 

Prayers of Meditation
The Jesus Prayer: Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
Words of Praise: Praise you, Lord Jesus.
Words of Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Meditation music video: http://youtu.be/tKCdk4vx-6o

After a relaxing time of prayer and meditation let’s celebrate progress with our 12 Step theme song: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Working the Steps: Step 7

Step Seven:  We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.



Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and prepares us for the next stages of recovery. In the first six steps we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves, and became ready to change.




Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove the hidden areas that need changing.If you’re anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to begin with the Lord than in prayer.


If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. ~ 1 John 1:9

Don’t hold anything back. It’s only in surrendering everything to God that we will find healing and freedom. With our inventory list in hand, we prayerfully give each item to God. This is the painful beginning we must experience to reach the peace and joy we seek.
The list of shortcomings may cause us to dwell on our self. Meditating on Christ’s presence in our life helps change our state of mind. Soon we begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. As we accept who we are today we find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be in the future.
To humble ourselves we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life has been spent seeing our self as a worthless piece of dirt. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life.
It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankful expectancy we go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will manifest itself visibly.
Empty of self, surrendering to God’s will and serving others; we fulfill His plan for our life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Find strength to work with our theme song video by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Resources:
Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Follow The Solid Rock Road: Pathway to Radical Recovery by Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro

What’s Your Secret?

If you’re a ‘Baby Boomer’ like me you may remember the old game show called I’ve Got a Secret. The show aired from 1952-1967 and was one of my parent’s favorites. The format was simple: while the secret flashed on the TV screen for the viewing audience, four panelists took turns questioning the person with the secret to determine exactly what the secret was. A nominal financial award was given to a contestant whose secret could not be guessed by the panel. It was always funny to hear the questions the panel would ask trying to guess the secret.

I write today about secrets because as a recovering addict I have a past of many secrets. Not that my past is still a secret today, but when I was walking in sin and addiction, my life was full of secrets. Sometimes too many to keep up with. Secrets stacked upon lies and lies stacked upon secrets. It was a veritable house of cards that when finally collapsed was actually a relief.

If you’re a woman who struggles with addiction you know the burden of secrets. Satan, our enemy, knows the power of those secrets. His job is to keep us from uncovering our secrets. As long as the secret is hidden it has power over us. The enemy will tell us we shouldn’t tell anyone our secret because they will hate us. He’ll try to tell us that even God hates us because of our secret. The longer we keep the secret the worse it gets. In fact, nothing will get better until the secret is out in the open.

The key is to find a trusted friend or counselor with whom we can share our secret; go to her for prayer and support. Confessing our secret starts the healing process and removes the power of darkness over our lives. You’d be surprised how understanding others will be once you begin to share with them your struggle.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. — James 5:13-16 NIV

The power of hidden behaviors and secrets can work for us as well as against us. David said, “I have hidden your [God’s] word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” If we hide God’s Word in our hearts by meditating on it and memorizing it we will find a new transforming power that will keep our minds and hearts pure. Jesus taught, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”

Secrets have a way of being exposed. Let’s use our ability to keep secrets for prayer and meditation. Unlike the game show contestants where the panel is guessing the secret, we will see an unbelievable new power, a power of Light, being exposed in our lives drawing ourselves and others to The Source of our secret.