“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray...”
I spoke to some members of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer (AFP) at the Lavrock Centre on Tuesday afternoon. All this week the national leaders of the movement are at the Lavrock Centre to pray and discuss their ministry for the next couple of years. They were a delightful group of spirit-filled people to be with today and they asked me as diocesan bishop to speak with them about my own spiritual journey and my prayer life.
I told them that in terms of my spirituality I treasure the middle ground of Anglicanism but recognize that it is a broad middle ground today with much diversity. As for my prayer life, I continue to work with my ordination promises to engage in daily prayer. That’s when I told them that this month finds me on a new path in my prayer journey. Beginning on June 1 and continuing for much of the summer I have pledged to spend at least two hours every day in prayer and self-reflection. Having the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer in the diocese at this time is a very good coincidence for me. I will quote from my letter to the clergy sent yesterday when I told the diocese of my plans:
"And finally, it is time for me to pray. During June, I will be devoting a portion of every day to a program of spiritual exercises and prayer under the direction of a spiritual director. It was my intention to spend time this summer with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at a retreat centre but circumstances prevent me from being away from the diocese as planned. I will instead have a modified retreat, spending a part of every day in directed prayer with two multi-day periods of extended silence. Part of my discipline will be to hold the clergy of our diocese and their families in prayer."
It will soon be a year and a half since I became a bishop. While there have been many joys, there have also been many challenges. There are things about this job that can be very tiring both physically and spiritually. I realize now that deepening my relationship with Christ will be vital if I am to continue in a healthy and mature way as bishop.
This will be my final Moments of Grace for a few weeks. I will resume my online writing later in the summer as I pick up my pace of work again. It’s not that I won’t be writing in between; part of my discipline for the next while is also to do some serious journaling of my thoughts and reflections so that I might understand them more fully. That will probably work for me; I never seem to know how I feel about something until I write about it. In addition to my work with Ignatius, I will also reread a few of the spiritual classics by teachers ancient and modern that have shaped me in the past.
I cannot count the number of times I have prayed the following prayer from the BCP for eventide over the years. It seems fitting that as I move more deeply into prayer and stillness at the end of this day I pray it again:
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.