Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Useful Guide to Quiet time and Prayer

I recently finished reading 'A Sacred Primer: The Essential Guide to Quiet Time and Prayer.' This useful little book was written by one of my close friends, Elizabeth Neeld. It provides guidelines for what Elizabeth calls a ‘daily spiritual practice.’ Quakers have no problem sitting in silence. Friends' unprogrammed meetings are an hour or more of silent listening. And meditation also plays and important role in Buddhist practice. I had long set time aside, many mornings, for reading and meditation, but, nonetheless, found Elizabeth’s book to be helpful. It might be helpful for Dormgrandpop readers, as well. Here are three of the guidelines I have put to use.

1. Create a sacred space – a space that you set aside for your spiritual practice (even though it may be used for other purposes during the day. I create a sacred space by turning off the lights in my apartment and lighting the Christmas tree lights that decorate a five foot high Sri Lankan ceremonial oil lamp. The lamp is always lighted, too, when I entertain guests.

2. Have a ritualized beginning and ending to your spiritual practice. I begin with what is known as the St. Francis Prayer and end with the Lord’s prayer, though my quiet time often includes readings from other religious traditions.

3. Be willing to pray out loud and have your prayers be a candid conversation with a loving God. Elizabeth’s suggestion to regard God as a loving friend, with whom it is possible to share anything has been a breakthrough for me. Interestingly, she uses the Psalms to illustrate this showing how they cover a range of human concerns: praise, joy, despair and even requests that God strike down one’s enemies.

A Sacred Primer is also rich with examples and writings describing diverse spiritual practices, spanning millennia of human experience. The books message: a daily spiritual practice is a resource available to all of us as a source of peace, strength and connection to a higher power


Blogger Andii said...

You're so right, I think, to recommend a kind of ritual start and end. It's psychologically quite important and helpful to have rites of transition even for quite small things. You might like to check out this book for more ideas related to the Lord's prayer. The bigger argument of the book is to take seriously the idea that this prayer is in itself a pattern to lead us through times of focussed regular encounter with God but the ideas within it could be reused in many cases in different frameworks.

6:22 AM  

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