I first experienced using the Rhythm Of Daily Prayer when I visited Ffald-y-Brenin last June. It was definitely at a time when I experienced the presence of God in an unusual way. I got out of the car into the car park and it was a constant from then onwards throughout my visit! For those who have never been to Ffald-y-Brenin, it is a Christian Retreat Centre and House of Prayer near Fishguard in Wales, where people can just come and be. Either they can do their own thing during their visit or they might come to one or more of the four short public prayer times in the chapel, which are spread out through the day. I generally came to two or three of the daily prayer times as the atmosphere was so wonderful.
I suffer as many people do from difficulty in concentrating and keeping thoughts from wandering while in prayer. Having felt focused on God by those daily prayer times, I decided to buy a copy of the Rhythm Of Prayer booklet. This has proved to be a good decision. Four months down the line I am still using this booklet, not slavishly but as a way of helping myself get closer to God. Because of the pattern my life follows, I am most likely to use the morning prayers and either the evening or night ones; occasionally the midday ones feel right but often I don’t really stop long for lunch, especially if I am working.
The morning one actually helps to gets me going on the day with a positive attitude towards God and my life (especially with darker mornings!) It reminds me that this is God’s day and I need to rejoice and be glad in it, to appreciate the chance of a new day with all its opportunities. There is a part about laying ourselves down before God and also experiencing his resurrection power and his surrounding of us. The Lord’s Prayer can be included and also the Caleb Prayer which I pray specifically for where I live : naming names where it feels right. This reads as follows :
O High King of Heaven. Have mercy on our Land. Revive your Church. Send the Holy Spirit for the sake of the children. May your Kingdom come to our nation. In Jesus’s mighty name. Amen
And of course there is room for my own prayers and any psalm I choose to read. I don’t always use all this, especially if I am running late, but it is definitely inclining me to pray more regularly and consistently and helps me to continue to experience Christ in the way I experienced some time back.
The noon time one is all about rest and strengthening and lifting up the nations to God, also about asking for blessing and help for us and all we love. I’d like to make time for this one often…it feels like an oasis time.
The evening prayer times are again a time of thankfulness for what we have seen in the day of God at work, and all the contacts we have had. As well as a reading and our own prayer time, there is a part that says we open ourselves to God this night to give us dreams and visions, and, interestingly, I seem to have had quite a few dreams recently of interest. One was about a neighbour who is not a Christian but believes in angels, and I dreamt she said she was going off to read the bible. Two days later, I bumped into her. She was feeling highly indignant about a situation at work and after commiserating with her, I said I’d pray for it to turn around for her. She was very appreciative. Haven’t caught up with her to find out how it’s going yet…I’ve had quite a few other dreams about people and try to remember to pray for them.
Another part I can find very helpful in the evening reading is “Lord, wherever spiritual, physical or emotional darkness touches me, I trust you to lighten it. I believe and trust in you.” I work in mental health and am frequently coming across other people’s dark places, which can often touch on my own, so this can be a real help in letting go, after a complicated day.
More often though, I read the night prayer before I get ready to relax and think about sleep. This includes a time of confession, for what we have done and what we have failed to do – which often strikes a chord. There is prayer time and a reading and then a time of committal of ourselves into God’s hand for the night and a looking forward to the next day. In a time of anxiety-provoking newscasts, it feels so positive to be giving myself back to God at this time of night. It makes me feel safe amidst all the confusion of modern life.
There are also shorter pieces, anchor points, which can be used, if it feels more appropriate for the time.
All in all, I’m finding my copy of Rhythm of Daily Prayer is getting well worn, and it certainly feels as though it is making a good difference in my prayer life. I don’t feel I have to do all of it but it can order my day helpfully. If ever I felt it had become just a habit , I’d dump it and find another way forward, but it certainly hasn’t done so yet!
Contributed by Caroline Palmer, Director of the Cornish documentary “Some Scenes from the life of John Harris (1820-84)”