Patterns

It is easy to imagine that Julian, in her anchorhold, had plenty of time for prayer. And of course she did, if only because the times for prayer were a legislated part of her daily schedule. But another reason she had time for prayer is because all time can be filled with prayer.

Nowadays we are very good at reading lots of books, studying and talking about scripture, and writing about spiritual matters, and to top it all we are terrifically busy: there is so, so much to see, think about, and do. If we want to pray, we must make a time in all that busyness.

Is that right? is prayer then one more to-do in the day, another thing to take care of? Or should it not be even more needful than all the reading, talking, writing?

If we are very busy, the heart of the matter is that we are established in a pattern of doing things we have not always consciously chosen, but may have fallen into through necessity or inattention. A time for prayer cannot easily be shoehorned into such a pattern.

But if a small space can be made, if we can truly give our heart, our mind, our attention—all our being—in prayer for that sliver of time, things will gradually begin to shift around us. What will be happening is that we are slowly changing to way we see and operate in the world. In the time we give only to Him, God is at work in us, gently nurturing us in hidden ways, like a kind of spiritual housecleaning in which all we can do is entrust Him with ourselves. It is an effort of seeking and trusting and allowing: we are presenting ourselves to the love always present to us. The consequences will not always be immediately pleasant: we may be brought to painful epiphanies. But over time—over a long time—prayer can re-form the patterns we have made of our days, and like a dye escape its set bounds, and begin to permeate the rest of our life.

 

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