Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors. Today’s message comes from Margaret Ellsworth, Forward Movement’s Marketing Coordinator.
This January marks one year of my most consistent, most life-giving spiritual practices. Every Monday through Saturday in 2022, I’ve started my day by praying Morning Prayer with a group of friends over Zoom.
This is longer than I’ve ever kept up with a consistent habit like this—longer than any workout program, self-improvement life hack, or New Year’s resolution. How did we make it this far?
We didn’t all start out as friends—just folks from various parts of the Internet. Some of us knew each other in person (attending the same parish, or old college classmates.) Others of us were only connected online. What we had in common was our desire to pray.
Over the past year, we have groaned over Job and puzzled over Numbers, and wondered what Jesus was saying to us in the Gospels. We found our favorite canticles and even tried singing them sometimes. We adopted our own cycles of prayer, learning the names of congregations in all 7 dioceses where we had members. And we prayed for each other—for concerns both big and small.
The biggest gift this community has given me is a relief from decision fatigue. I could start my day by hunting down an insightful Bible passage or by extemporizing the perfect prayer. But on the days I wake up tired and uninspired, that extra bit of work is probably going to mean I don’t pray at all. The pattern of prayer we have in the BCP makes it easier to get started. (Even more so if, like our group, you use an app or website that takes the page-flipping out of the equation.)
Praying with a group takes this one step further. I’m not deciding each morning when—or whether—to pray. If I snooze my alarm one more time, I’ll leave the rest of the group hanging. So I show up for them, and they show up for me.
That means showing up in the midst of our daily mess. On any given day, someone is calling in to read their part on the bus to work, or just listening while they get ready for a work meeting. Just last week, I had to hand off the officiant’s part halfway through the Apostles’ Creed to break up an argument between my kids. There’s no pressure to be perfect and reverent—because if we had to be perfect and reverent, we’d never pray together in the first place. Instead we meet each other where we are, and God meets us there too.
We’ve made it this far by making one decision: just show up for prayer each day. It’s a big decision that takes lots of small decisions off our plate. And it has borne fruit for us. As I start my day in prayer, I’m more likely to notice what God is doing throughout the rest of my day. I’m thankful for my friends in helping me show up, and excited to learn what God will show us in the coming year of prayer.
More from our ministry:
Join a community reading through Scripture: The Good Book Club
Pray through the Great Litany this Lent: Hear Us, Good Lord
From Grow Christians: Changing Diapers, Changing Lives
Our first bilingual book of Lenten devotionals: Encuentros con Jesus