Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 21, 2015
First Sunday in Lent – Reflection on Fr. Nouwen and Prayer
As my title says, today is the first Sunday in Lent. As such, I had a day of rest from the 40acts of generosity. (However, I did preach on generosity! See my tweet: Generous With Our Purpose – sermon for 1st Sunday of Lent http://wp.me/p5Nfg4-7 #40acts @StLukesChurch2 )
Instead of meditating and praying on the daily generosity challenge from 40acts, I had the opportunity to pray with one of my several helpful prayer guides. The one I am going to be using during the Sundays in Lent is A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. (an Upper Room publication)
Accordingly, I read through the prayer, psalm and several scripture readings for the day. Plus, I read the first Reading for Reflection. Wouldn’t you know that it was by Fr. Henri Nouwen. On prayer. Well, much more than prayer, but focusing on prayer as a centerpiece of our service to God.
Fr. Nouwen’s words are always thought-provoking. I can never read anything by him and come away unmoved. I always have some thing or some thought from his writing that just will not go away. Just so with this brief, two paragraph reading, too. (from The Living Reminder) The crux of what he said: “We have fallen into the temptation of separating ministry from spirituality, service from prayer.”
How often do I find that to be the case, in many people’s minds? Service for God is not meant to be totally separated from prayer, and vice versa. Service . . . ministry . . . prayer . . . spirituality. All interconnected, and all part of each other. God probably planned them to be seamless parts of a whole. Sadly, I do not (cannot?) make all these pieces of my spiritual life fit together so well as Fr. Nouwen suggests.
I am afraid I will never be an “isolated hermit,” but that is all for the good. I would be hard-pressed to be such, as a contemplative. I don’t think God intended that life for me. However, I can rest in God, have devotions with God, even go on the occasional retreat with God.
Yes, I don’t think I belong up on that mountaintop with God, all the time. I need to be down in the trenches, walking with the members in my congregation, praying with the bible studies and in worship services. And meditating. And in contemplation. That reminds me of one of my favorite phrases: both/and! Both service/and prayer. Both ministry/and meditation. What a wonderful reminder to me that I am absolutely doing something right—engaging in multi-faceted ministry for God.
Thanks for the affirmation, Fr. Nouwen!
(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )
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