Saturday, August 2, 2014

Seven Sacred Pauses

I've spent much of the past year reading, contemplating, and researching topics regarding living a simpler, more intentional life.  In the midst of all that reading I came upon something that has been penetrating my heart for about a month now.  It is the idea of intentional prayer several times throughout the day.  The purpose is two-fold: to commune more deeply with God Almighty and to hinder the much too common reality at the end of the day -- "Where did my day go?  What do I have to show for it?"  Have you been there?  I have spent too many days sinking in to my bed at night just to wake up and repeat again and again and again feeling like a robot with no off switch. 

So, I'm going to embark on something this upcoming school year.  I can't stake claim to the idea - it's not mine.  I totally stole it from others who are older and wiser and more published.  But I have adapted it to fit my own life as a working mama and public school teacher.  My hope and prayer is that this will become a ritual for me that will make my days more purposeful and inspired.

Here's the gist:
Seven specific times a day I stop and pray.  Each prayer has a theme.  If I have time I read a specific passage in the Bible (also stolen from others mind you).  My timeline doesn't follow the original prayer schedule - I tailored it to fit my workday.  I also wrote out specific prayers so that if my brain is fried I have something to read and meditate on in spite of myself. 

I'm posting my prayers and findings below.  If you deem them interesting or feasible for your life feel free to copy, paste, and print them for yourself or others.  If you know me, ask me sometime how its going.  It will keep me accountable.  I'm excited to see what God has to reveal to me through this!

Seven Sacred Pauses

1.     The Awakening Hour (5:45 a.m.)
Reading: Psalm 19, 95, 147

Prayer: This day is Yours, Jesus. Awaken love in my heart so that I am a vessel of light today.

Insight: A time to remember God’s goodness and begin the day in glory. “What needs to rise in me today? Do I need to awaken to joy? Forgiveness? Should I pray for resurrection of love in my heart for my spouse and children? Ask for a dawning in my soul”

We begin a new day where our lives can become a living praise. It is a time to celebrate.  A time to celebrate reform, healing, transformation.

2.     The Blessing Hour (10:00 – recess)
Reading: Psalm 67, 84, 121

Prayer: Lord, help me to approach my work mindfully with love in my heart.  Grant me creativity, composure, inspiration, and love as I continue in my workday.  May Your love be evident to my students and all those I interact with today.  Stir my soul and inspire me to do good work.  Help me to be intentional in my words and actions and show me how to inspire and bless others. 

Insight: This mid-morning pause has two emphases.   Mindfulness of the Spirit’s abiding presence and the sacredness of our hands and work.

It is a time to invite the Spirit to stir our souls. “This pause can redirect our morning trajectory from efficient to inspired.”  We invite a deeper connection before the day gets away from us.

3.     The Hour of Illumination (Beginning of lunch break)
Reading: Psalm 24, 33, 34

Prayer: Oh Lord, Your light is beautiful.  You are the perfect example of a servant.  As I finish my workday, help me to serve those around me.  The day has already been filled with many challenges.  Search my heart and teach me new things as the day continues.  Give me a teachable spirit, eyes to see and ears to hear your Truth.  Grant me peace and  remind me that I am a vessel being used by You to reveal Your beauty and light to those in my realm of influence.

Insight: At midday, the brightest moment of the day, we recommit to being a light.   We pledge to serve, practice peace, give hope to the hopeless and provide light in the darkness. We ask the Spirit to send light, to open our hearts, to change deception to truth, despair to hope, hate to love. We search ourselves and ask for light where we are harboring anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness. We pray to bring joy to a dark world and offer our hands and words as agents of change and justice.

4.     The Wisdom Hour (2:00 p.m.)
Reading: Psalm 71, 90, 138

Prayer: Forgive me Lord for my failings.  Place wise people around me and let me learn from them.  Take away my anxiety, bitterness, anger, and frustration and renew my soul.  As I reflect upon my workday grant me perspective for the day, the week, the school year, and the years to come.  Show me how and where to improve myself and give me obedience to follow through.  Release any darkness in me and cover me with your grace.

Insight: At midafternoon we embrace the themes of surrender, forgiveness and wisdom.  We recognize the impermanence of life and acknowledge that all things are passing. This hour we pray for wisdom to help us live fully. With such wisdom we could live more courageously, compassionately, free from bitterness and anxiety. We ask for perspective of the short, fleeting day, the short passing life, release our grudges, offer our gifts and embrace our time on earth.

5.     The Twilight Hour (3:00ish - the drive home)
Reading: Psalm 34, 139, 145

Prayer: Lord God, calm my heart and mind.  As I journey home to my family bring peace into my soul.  Remind me of the many blessings in my life and help me to recall specific joys of today. As I arrive home to my family help me to leave my work day behind me and fully enjoy the time You have given me with my family.  Shower me with grace as I may walk into a busy and chaotic home.  And please Lord, keep me mindful of the wonderful blessings I have in my children and spouse.

Insight: Also called vespers, the theme of this hour is gratitude and serenity. This hour provides a chance to calm our minds. We invite God’s peace as we transition from our work day into dinner time and evening.  We ask ourselves what the greatest blessing of the day was?  What was a lovely accomplishment?  What can I lay to rest until tomorrow? Who do I need to make peace with?

A major focus of the twilight hour is gratitude.  We practice being thankful of our blessings, of the season of life we are in.  Even when this hour may typically be frenzied, we say ‘thank you’. “We say thank you for tomorrow, a perfect landing spot for unfinished tasks.  We say thank you for hands to labor and love with and ask for grace for the work of the approaching evening.”

6.     The Great Silence (children’s bedtime)
Reading: Psalm 23, 91, 134.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for today.  Place your shield of protection over us all tonight.  Bless and keep my little ones.  Surround them with angels to guard against hurt, cruelty, and loss of innocence.  Help us all to live a life mindful of You and Your ways.  *Include specific prayers for family and friends here.*  Grant us rest Lord so that we can begin tomorrow renewed and ready to accomplish what You have set before us.

Insight: A prayer to conclude the day.  It begins with a gentle evaluation of the day, a beautiful prayer to do with children, a spouse or a friend.  The focus is on awareness, weaknesses, strengths and accomplishments of the day. “We learn to live with more integrity and obedience than the day before, as together in prayer we examine the day.”

We pray for protection of darkness, for our children to be sheltered under God’s wings, for chains to be broken in areas we are stuck.  We intervene for those who are suffering sick, lost and hurting.

We welcome the darkness as well, a time to heal and restore our minds and bodies. It is time to let go of the day and enter into silence.

7.     The Night Watch (10:00/bedtime)
Reading: Psalm 42, 63, 119:145-152

Prayer: God, my heart is heavy just thinking about all the suffering in the world.  Please Lord, ease the pain of those suffering in the midst of poverty and injustice.  Grant courage and endurance to those going through difficult times.  Restore these people in mighty ways and reveal Your love for them. 

Insight: Also called vigils, this pause occurs around midnight. This is a deep prayer, interceding, keeping a vigil with Christ who never sleeps and guards us in our darkest hours.  We advocate for others that are suffering, abandoned, oppressed and lonely.  If you sponsor a child in poverty this is a good moment to bring them before the Lord.  “Perhaps some night when you get up to pray, something will turn over in someone’s heart and find its voice all because of your small prayer.  Perhaps our very waiting in the darkness gives some struggling unknown pilgrim in the hour’s hope.”

This is a moment spent in silence to shoulder the suffering.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Thank you for sharing. I want to print this as a reminder and place a copy in my class and near my bed.